New data published today by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) shows that employers’ confidence, both in the UK economy and in their own businesses’ ability to hire and invest, has started to improve since the extension to the Brexit deadline.

The latest JobsOutlook shows that employers’ confidence in making hiring and investment decisions increased by 4 percentage points from the previous rolling quarter, returning to positive territory at net: +1. Confidence in the UK economy also improved, rising by 3 percentage points to net: -26.

Hiring intentions for temporary agency workers continued to rise rolling quarter-on-quarter, with the balance of forecast demand increasing from net: +2 to net: +4 in the short-term, and from net: +4 to net: +5 in the medium-term.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said:

“The strength of our jobs market is one of the biggest assets the UK has, as it keeps people in work and raises their pay. Ensuring we protect the flexibility and opportunity it offers should be at the heart of any new government’s agenda.

“Today’s survey shows that businesses believe in their own prospects and are ready to grow if the pall of economic uncertainty is removed. The contrast between employers’ view of their own prospects and their view of the wider economic picture remains stark, however. Resolving this will require cool heads through the summer and autumn, so that companies can rely on a smooth and stable new relationship with the EU – not the chaos of a no deal exit.

JobsOutlook again shows how concerned employers are about skills shortages. Recruiters are helping with this, with 92% of hirers saying knowledge and expertise is key to choosing a partner who can help them navigate uncertain times. The REC is enhancing its support for recruiters by providing data about local and sectoral labour markets this summer, as part of our commitment to the industry and its role in keeping Britain growing.”

Other statistics highlighted in this month’s JobsOutlook include:

  • Hiring intentions for permanent staff remained strongly positive at net: +16 in the short-term and net: +18 in the medium-term. These are similar levels both to the previous month and the same period last year.
  • 43% of employers expressed concern over the sufficient availability of appropriate candidates for permanent positions this quarter. The three sectors causing most concern were Health & Social Care, Hospitality and Engineering & Technical. These areas have a legacy of high dependency on non-UK nationals.
  • Four in five employers (78%) reported having little or no surplus capacity in their workforce this quarter. This included 37% reporting having no extra capacity at all.
  • Nine in ten (92%) employers that use recruitment agencies highlighted the importance of an agency’s geographical and/or sectoral expertise when it came to choosing a partner agency – up from 71% last year.
  • Despite concern over candidate shortages and persistent skills gaps, three quarters (74%) of employers who use recruitment agencies reported being satisfied with their agency partners this quarter.

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