Employers remain ‘level-headed’ despite drop in confidence, says REC
The latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation has revealed that employer confidence tumbled during the last quarter, but also suggests that businesses are holding back from making cuts to their workforce.
24% of employers indicated that they would take on more permanent staff in the next three months, while 64% said they will maintain their existing headcount. Just 3% of employers expect to shrink their permanent workforce within the next three months.
Smaller businesses in particular reported robust hiring intentions, with more than a quarter (26%) of SMEs saying they would take on more permanent staff and 12% predicting that their temporary staff base will increase in the short term.
Despite this positive data, the latest survey also reveals how confidence has deteriorated in recent months. In July, one in five (21%) UK employers reported feeling more confident about economic conditions, down from 45% in June and 51% in May.
Confidence has also fallen month-on-month around hiring and investment decisions. In May, 47% of employers expected their organisations to become more confident when hiring. In June this fell to 39%, and in July to 25%.
REC chief executive, Kevin Green, said, “It’s not surprising that confidence took a knock following the referendum result, but there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic. SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy and it’s encouraging to see that hiring intentions remain strong within this group, suggesting they have taken the referendum result in their stride.
“In general employers have avoided knee-jerk reactions to staffing and this ‘business-as-usual’ approach bodes well for the UK jobs market in the next few months. Recruiters tell us that while their clients are taking longer to confirm permanent appointments, vacancies have continued to grow since the referendum. As business continues to do its bit we now need government to show the same level-headedness to restore economic confidence.”
The JobsOutlook survey shows that a quarter (24%) of public sector organisations have made redundancies in the last 12 months. Commenting on this, Green added, “Public sector organisations have been under pressure to reduce costs for some time, and with the easy savings having already been made we’re now seeing some redundancies. It’s likely that this will feed through into poorer levels of service. At a time when schools and hospitals are already struggling to perform, this situation doesn’t seem sustainable in the long term.”
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