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Growth on the card for SMEs

The survey of more than 4,000 of Page’s clients nationally cements anecdotal evidence that there is a level of optimism in the market that has not been seen in years.

Oliver Watson, managing director at Michael Page said that while overall confidence towards hiring is improving, recruitment activity in 2014 will be driven by SMEs.

“SMEs are bullish compared to large companies in the core business hubs of the UK. In London and the Home Counties, 41% of SMEs reported that they would increase headcount this year compared to only 20% of large companies. This trend was also mirrored in the Midlands with 41% of SMEs reporting growing headcount aspirations versus 20% of large companies, and in the North West with 37%, compared to 32%, respectively,” he said.

The booming oil and gas sector has put the north east of Scotland firmly at the top of the list for regional hiring aspirations with 58% of respondents in this area saying they will increase headcount.

From a sector perspective, jobs growth will be the most abundant in professional services with approximately three out of five respondents saying that they will increase headcount.

“All major sectors which make up UK GDP have responded with encouraging signs of growth, in particular, 52% of automotive, 50% of construction, 40% of manufacturing, and 40% from banking businesses,” he said.

“Within these key sectors SMEs are trumping large companies in relation to hiring optimism for example in professional services 11% of SME respondents said they had intentions to increase hiring versus 7% of large companies. The message was even stronger in the manufacturing sector which revealed that twice as many SMEs are increasing headcount.” 

Attitudes towards pay and bonuses remain unchanged from 2013 results with seven out of 10 respondents expecting their company to increase salaries and six out of 10 expecting to pay bonuses in 2014.

“The global economy remains in recovery mode and as such it is specialist areas where companies must pay a premium to attract and retain talent, such as oil and gas, life sciences, digital and aerospace. These areas are likely to see significant increases in remuneration,” he added.  

 

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