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UKs Net Employment Outlook rises from -6% to -2% in the fourth quarter of 2009.
80 per cent of employers anticipate no change in headcount during October to December.
Finance & Business Services sector employers sending positive signals.

UK employers are reporting improved hiring plans for the first time in three years, giving job seekers a much needed glimmer of hope, according to survey results released today by recruitment services firm Manpower. The Employment Outlook Survey shows a rise in projected hiring during October to December 2009 for the first time since Q4 2006, indicating that the UK may be starting to see the first positive signs since the economic downturn began. The Survey, based on responses from over 2,100 UK employers, reveals that hiring confidence is starting to return in certain industry sectors and regions, with a Seasonally Adjusted national Net Employment Outlook of -2% reported.

Mark Cahill, Managing Director at Manpower UK, explains: There are a number of early positive hiring indicators emerging, from employers in sectors including Finance & Business Services, Public & Social and Construction, which suggest we may have reached a turning point.

France, Germany and Japan have already stepped forward and declared themselves officially out of recession. If the UK is to mirror this recovery and retain its prominent position within the global business arena, it is essential that temporary labour, which will provide both job creation and business growth, be embraced by employers. Indeed, a well-managed, complementary, flexible workforce will, for many businesses, be a safe and prudent choice as they pull out of this downturn.

Alan Clarke, UK Economist at BNP Paribas, comments: The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey has once again done a great job of predicting that the official ONS data on employment and unemployment would be as disappointing as it was over the last quarter. The labour market situation is still weak, but the Survey provides tentative signs that we are now headed in a more positive direction. The improvement in Outlook is consistent with the impressive rebound seen in a number of leading indicators of economic activity in recent months.

Outlooks in the Transport & Communications (-10%) and Hotels & Restaurants (-7%) sectors indicate some of the weakest employer hiring confidence for the quarter ahead, as discretionary consumer spending, business and leisure travel cutbacks continue. Utilities (7%) and the Public & Social (3%) sectors, on the other hand, remain in positive hiring territory and are joined by the Finance & Business Services sector (1%) which creeps into positive figures for the first time in five quarters.

Employers in four of the nine industry sectors and in five of the 12 UK regions surveyed report positive hiring prospects for the quarter ahead. However, in the West Midlands employers remain notably downbeat and are the least optimistic (-10%). In London, employer hiring confidence has declined further by two percentage points quarter-over-quarter to -5%.

Transferring existing skills within the workplace has increasingly become a focus for employers, with traditional skills beginning to be realigned to emerging industries in some sectors and UK regions. Significant government investment to create green jobs, particularly within the Utilities sector and in the North East region, is leading the way for the transference of technical and niche skills. The North East, which previously relied on employment in the now struggling traditional manufacturing and construction industries, has now embraced the renewable energy industry and is benefiting from an experienced and available local workforce. This has resulted in an Outlook of 8% for the region in quarter four - the most positive in the UK.

Furthermore, Manpower is seeing first-hand evidence of the widely reported lost generation and the effect the downturn is having on this age group. Concludes Cahill: It is evident through our branch network that employers are tapping into more experienced individuals to resource roles traditionally filled by graduates or first jobbers. Our advice would be to not underestimate the value that the perceived lost generation can bring through apprenticeships and internships indeed, there was a war for talent among this demographic only a year ago. However, since then we have seen the pressure to cut costs push employers to resource tactically not strategically.


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