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Employer hiring plans are the weakest in 17 years

UK EMPLOYER HIRING INTENTIONS FOR Q3 SHOW SLOWING RATE OF DECLINE

UKs Net Employment Outlook remains at -6%, for the second consecutive quarter

Employer hiring plans are the weakest in 17 years

81 per cent of employers anticipate no change in headcount during Q3 2009

Public & Social and Utilities sectors show positive hiring intentions for the second consecutive quarter

Survey results released today show that, despite a decreasing rate of decline in employer hiring confidence, 81 per cent of employers saying they will hold on to the staff they have during the third quarter of 2009 UK employers. Job seekers can expect to see a continued slow hiring pace.

This is the result of the quarterly Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, released by Manpower, one of the UKs leading employment services firms. The Survey, which is based on responses from over 2,100 UK employers regarding their hiring intentions for the quarter ahead, shows that employer confidence remains at its weakest level in 17 years with a Seasonally Adjusted Net Employment Outlook of -6%.

The Survey shows that employers within the Public & Social and Utilities sectors anticipate the most optimistic hiring pace in the quarter ahead, reporting positive forecasts of 2% and 9%, respectively, for the July to September 2009 period. However, the Public & Social sector forecasts decline both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. The Utilities industry sector is the only sector with stronger hiring intentions both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. With the exception of Agriculture employers, who report a Net Employment Outlook of 0%, employer forecasts in the remaining industry sectors surveyed stay in negative territory this quarter.

Mark Cahill, Managing Director at Manpower UK, comments: It has been well documented that the UK is in recession, but while employer confidence on the whole remains weak, the Survey indicates a slower rate of decline in employer hiring confidence in most industry sectors and all but two geographic regions, East Anglia and the South West, where hiring plans remain stronger than other regions within the UK.

We have seen businesses make detailed assessments of their cost base to reflect market conditions and make difficult decisions to remove infrastructure and defend profit. Over the next three months, we expect businesses to apply continued caution and display some reluctance to reduce headcount costs any further. They will be looking to ensure that they are well positioned to take advantage of any uptake in the market that may occur, added Cahill.

Looking at the nine industry sectors surveyed Construction sector employers report hiring confidence of -10%, up seven percentage points compared to last quarter, but still within negative territory and down by 14 percentage points year-over-year. Finance & Business Services sector employers also report an increase in hiring confidence this quarter, up three percentage points quarter-over-quarter to -4% - although the Outlook remains in negative territory.

Differences in employer confidence that exist between sectors, and even sub-sectors are evident from our Survey results, says Cahill. We are seeing evidence from our clients that white collar workers are beginning to look at ways to cross utilise their skills by considering careers in alternative sectors. Our Public Sector clients are definitely seeing an upsurge in availability of talent, and are keen to bring traditionally Private Sector talent into their organisations.

Hotels & Retail sector employers, meanwhile, report further weakened hiring confidence for the coming quarter, down two percentage points quarter-over-quarter to -9%. Within the sector, Business to Consumer retailers report an Outlook of -6%, while hotels and restaurants report an Outlook of -15%. The Manufacturing sector shows similarly substantial differences in employer hiring confidence within its sector. While food and beverage manufacturers are the most positive sub-sector (7%), automotive manufacturers remain notably gloomy (-13%).

Looking at the region-specific Outlooks for the July to September 2009 period, employers in the South West and East Anglia are the most positive about adding employees (2%). South West employers are the most positive of the 12 regions surveyed for the second consecutive quarter. Employers in Northern Ireland are the least positive (-15%), having experienced significant job losses within the manufacturing industry locally losing two per cent of its manufacturing workforce in a week during April 2009. In London, employers remain downbeat in the current economic climate (-3%), with employer hiring confidence in the region declining by a further one percentage point since last quarter.

While it is still too early to say if the worst is behind us in the UK, it is promising to see a slower rate of decline in employer hiring confidence now emerge, concludes Cahill. With this in mind, job seekers need to remain increasingly flexible and look for opportunities to improve skills and be open-minded to new roles that will give themselves the best possible chance of gaining employment.

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