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Upturn In Business Confidence Pushes Recruitment Activity Closer to Pre-recession Levels

Upturn In Business Confidence Pushes Recruitment Activity Closer to Pre-recession Levels

An upturn in business confidence has led to a surge in demand for sales candidates at UK medium and large organisations, pushing hiring activity closer to levels seen before the financial crisis, according to the latest quarterly & lsquo;Tracking UK Recruitment’ report by professional staffing recruitment consultancy Barclay Meade.

In the first quarter of 2012, 34% of employers brought in new sales candidates, up from 15% in the final three months of 2011. Encouragingly, almost two thirds (65%) of firms said this was to support business growth plans, which may be why 26% of business owners feel more confident about recruitment now than in Q4 2011.

The improved outlook mirrors the increase in hiring activity as the number of firms with a recruitment freeze fell for the first time in four quarters, down from 16% to 13%. This was supported by more business owners reporting that hiring activity is at similar level to before the financial crisis began in September 2007, up from 54% in Q4 2011 to 57% in Q1.

The report by Barclay Meade – part of the AIM-listed recruitment business Matchtech Group PLC – reveals more than three quarters (78%) of businesses have set out plans to bring in new staff in the second quarter of 2012.

Firms in the North West expect to be the most active, as just five per cent have ruled out bringing in new staff in the three months to June. While business services employers expect to be the busiest of all the sectors, with 87% hopeful of making new hires.

Barclay Meade’s & lsquo;Tracking UK Recruitment’ 2012 Q1 report also revealed:

•             Two thirds (66%) of businesses feel restricted by the Government’s employment legislation and would like to see changes made to help them fulfil labour solutions

•             While experts continue to debate the future economic landscape, the general consensus among the UK business community is that the outlook is hopeful. Almost two thirds (65%) of firms are cautiously optimistic about trading conditions for the next six months

•             The expense of hiring new staff is an increasing problem for employers, with 52% reporting as a barrier to recruitment in the first three months of 2012, up from 20% in Q4 2011

Nigel Lynn, managing director of Barclay Meade, says: “The services, manufacturing and construction sectors have made a strong start to the year and there is a sense that businesses are looking to increase their market share, by investing in talent which can improve the commercial value of their organisation.

“As Mervyn King pointed out in January, the recovery is likely to take a & lsquo;zig-zag pattern of alternating positive and negative growth’ and this will obviously impact on the hiring activity of UK firms as they take confidence from any upturn in the economy, which is what we are seeing currently.

“Despite many business owners calling on the Government to ease employment legislation, reform made by Vince Cable which doubles the time an employee has to work for a company before being able to make an unfair dismissal claim, will be contributing to the increased optimism shown among employers. Whether this can continue will depend on whether the Government can do enough to stimulate business growth long-term.”


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