Small firms have unveiled a blueprint to create 400,000 new jobs.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which represents 7,000 businesses across the county, has unveiled a s Five Point Plan for tackling rising unemployment.
The plan highlights part-time working, apprenticeships, simplifying red tape, giving small businesses more opportunities to bid for public contracts, and cutting payroll taxes, as the main ways of meeting the challenge.
FSB Kent and Medway chairman, Roger House, said: "The FSB’s Five Point Plan is going to be vital to creating and retaining jobs in the small business sector during what is going to be a challenging year, with unemployment on the rise.
"We are calling for the Government to help small businesses to continue to invest in recruitment and training so they can grow stronger and more competitive, creating quality jobs and doing their bit to pull the UK out of the recession as quickly as possible."
FSB chiefs met Government leaders at a jobs summit yesterday to spell out their ideas for creating and retaining jobs in a rapidly shrinking job market.
They believe that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) employ more than half the private sector workforce and are seen as key to creating sustainable quality jobs.
The FSB claims that by decreasing the burden of regulation on business, the Government could increase the number of jobs by 160,000 and save 73,000 jobs by preventing company closures.
It says the Government could also take 191,000 people out of unemployment in four years and help them into self-employment.
"This would not only help grow the economy but could in turn create more jobs as these small businesses flourish," the FSB said.
"Unemployment falls hardest on the 16-25 year group. Small businesses are invariably employers of those who might otherwise struggle in the job market.
"Small businesses are also more likely to employ those out of work for longer, or looking for more flexible working patterns. The FSB blueprint would see more of these people given opportunities to work.
"Making it easier for small businesses to win public procurement contracts would also see local investment double, while cutting payroll taxes, by raising the National Insurance Contributions threshold, would make it less costly for businesses to employ and retain staff and put money back into employees’ pockets."