JobsOutlook finds firms still confident despite long-term fears

While pessimism continues to reign among employers about long-term economic prospects for the UK economy, businesses are still seeking to grow headcount.

This is according to the latest Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s ‘JobsOutlook’ report, which reveals the net balance of those seeing a positive economic outlook as opposed to a negative one hit -11, up from -14 in October 2018.

However, hiring appetite among employers remained in positive territory with a net balance of +16, up 1 percentage point from the previous month.

Almost half (48%) of UK employers who hire permanent staff raised concerns over the quarter over the sufficient availability of candidates for permanent jobs, up from 42% a year earlier, with anticipated shortages of health and social care workers causing most anxiety for employers for a second successive month. Engineering & technical and hospitality workers continue to be the other two professions where employers expect most acute skills shortages.

Just over half (53%) of employers who plan to hire temporary workers raised concerns over the sufficient number of agency workers with the necessary skills they require, up from 46% the previous month, and up from 40% this time last year. Employers expect the most severe skills shortages among drivers, followed by industrial and the marketing, media & creative sectors.

The net balance of employers intending to bring in agency staff over the short-term rose by 3% compared to October 2018, to a net balance of +19.

The net balance of those intending to hire temporary agency workers remained buoyant in the medium-term, up 16% and up 2% on the previous month.

Commenting, Neil Carberry, REC CEO said the findings show British businesses at their “pragmatic best”: “Employers remain pessimistic about the longer-term economic outlook – but they are ready to invest in their own businesses to meet demand. Securing the Brexit transition period and a sensible approach to EU immigration to help deal with labour shortages will help to calm those economic fears. A deal will make sure that employers’ confidence in their own business wins out.

“The shortages in health and social care sectors are a major concern for the NHS with winter approaching. Government policy needs to support health commissioners to flexibly manage staffing needs. Without access to agency workers key frontline services could be put under threat.”

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