Brexit concerns hit confidence, says JobsOutlook

Employers’ confidence in the UK economy has turned negative for the first time since April, according to the latest report JobsOutlook from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

The report’s findings, released this morning, reveals the balance of those employers seeing a positive outlook as opposed to a negative one was a net -1, down 7 points on July.

However, employer confidence in making hiring and investment decisions in their own businesses remained in positive territory with a net balance of +15, down just by 1 point since July.

Half of UK employers raised concerns over the quarter about the availability of candidates for permanent jobs – these concerns were most acute for construction skills.

On the same period last year, more employers of permanent staff planned to increase their permanent headcount in the short term (26%) up 8 points.

The proportion of hirers who use agency workers highlighting plans to increase their agency worker numbers in the short term (35%) and medium term (35%) was at least twice that of the same period last year.

Two in three employers expressed concerns over the sufficient availability of agency workers over the quarter, up from 34% a year earlier, with marketing, media & creative and transport & logistics (especially drivers) the sectors cited as having the most significant challenges.

Commenting on the data, REC CEO Neil Carberry said it reflected employer confidence in the economy dipping in the face of uncertainty around the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU.

“So far this rising concern has only had a limited effect on employers’ own hiring plans, though, with hiring intentions still in positive territory.

“A shortage of available candidates in many areas of the economy means employers are having to work harder to bring in key staff – with many sectors, such as drivers and food supply, fearing they may be hit hard by future changes to the UK’s mobility deal with the EU.

“UK business needs to know what the Brexit deal will look like soon. The EU summit at the end of June failed to answer many questions and concerns – clarity on our future trading relationship and a comprehensive mobility and migration deal with the EU will give employers the capacity to invest and create jobs.”

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