Hiring intentions rise as employer confidence improves

The UK may be facing a Brexit-induced constitutional crisis, but a new report indicates that employers are preparing to carry on hiring regardless.

The latest JobsOutlook report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) shows that employers’ confidence both in the UK economy and in their own businesses’ has started to improve since the extension to the Brexit deadline, with employers’ confidence in making hiring and investment decisions increased by 4 percentage points from the previous rolling quarter, returning to positive territory at net +1.

Hiring intentions for temporary agency workers continued to rise rolling quarter-on-quarter, with the balance of forecast demand increasing from +2 to +4 in the short term, and from +4 to +5 in the medium term.

Similarly, hiring intentions for permanent staff remained strongly positive at +16 in the short term and +18 in the medium term. These are similar levels both to the previous month and the same period last year.

Neil Carberry, CEO of the REC, said: “Today’s survey shows that businesses believe in their own prospects and are ready to grow if the pall of economic uncertainty is removed. The contrast between employers’ view of their own prospects and their view of the wider economic picture remains stark, however. Resolving this will require cool heads through the summer and autumn, so that companies can rely on a smooth and stable new relationship with the EU – not the chaos of a ‘no deal’ exit.”

Lack of suitable candidates remains a concern 43% of employers expressed concern over the sufficient availability of appropriate candidates for permanent positions this quarter. The three sectors causing most concern were health & social care, hospitality and engineering & technical. These areas have a legacy of high dependency on non-UK nationals.

The labour market also remains tight with four in five employers (78%) reported having little or no surplus capacity in their workforce this quarter. This included 37% reporting having no extra capacity at all.

Nine in 10 (92%) employers that use recruitment agencies highlighted the importance of an agency’s geographical and/or sectoral expertise when it came to choosing a partner agency – up from 71% last year.

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