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Before referendum jobs market remained strong, but skills shortages spell trouble ahead, says REC

The JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) shows that before the referendum, 45% believed economic conditions to be ‘getting better’, compared to 21% who believed conditions were deteriorating.


The survey of 600 employers also finds two thirds adopting what could be a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude to hiring, with one in five (21%) planning to hire but three times as many (66%) intending to keep their permanent employee headcount static over the short term (next three months).


Eight in ten UK businesses (79%) report operating with either ‘little’ or ‘no’ capacity to take on more work without creating more jobs but employers anticipate difficulties finding appropriately skilled candidates for jobs in in engineering, construction, hospitality, and health and social care.


The REC’s chief executive, Kevin Green (pictured), said, “Whilst it is too early to draw conclusions about the impact the EU referendum result will have on hiring activity, it is encouraging to see how strong the UK jobs market was in the months leading up to the vote.


“Data from the ONS shows that employment grew by 624,000 in the last year and we have our best ever employment rate of 74.4 per cent. This supports the idea that the jobs market will be able to withstand any disruption to the economic outlook.


“At the same time, there are still lots of employers finding it difficult to hire the staff they need in both highly skilled sectors such as engineering and at the other end of the market in hospitality and healthcare.    


“With British applicants already in short supply, policy makers must ensure that employers can continue to access the people they need from Europe to fill the jobs available. This must be top of the agenda to safeguard the strength of the UK jobs market and sustainable economic growth which benefits us all.” 


The next issue of JobsOutlook will include data collected in July, after the referendum, and is published on Wednesday 24th August.

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