The very latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) “Jobs Outlook” paper paints a veritable curate’s egg of a picture. Overall, 25% of respondents believe the economy is improving (which, given the gloomy picture painted in some sections of the mainstream media, is perhaps surprising), but 34% think that things are getting worse.
Conversely, and in contrast to the above figures, 28% think that confidence in hiring will improve but only 18% think it will worsen. Clearly, whatever may befall the economy in the future, employers are thinking that both in the short-term (next 3 months) and medium-term (4-12 months) the prospects for perm roles look healthy, particularly in the public sector.
In the contractor market, the medium-term outlook was more positive in September than it had been in the previous few months, but there was also a rise in the number expecting a decrease in agency workers being hired. Of particular interest again is the public sector, where the IR35 changes from earlier in the year do not seem to be dissuading public sector employers from hiring temp workers – in fact, the REC study shows more of them planning to increase their temp headcount than decrease it in the next 4-12 months.
Moreover, also in the temp market, skill shortages are perceived to be a continually growing problem. As the survey report says, “In sharp contrast to the 17% of employers who expressed concern over the sufficient future availability of temporary agency workers to meet their skills needs in July–September 2016, four in ten employers (39%) flagged the same issue a year later.”
Finally, the REC snapshot also notes there are a few major regional/sectoral variations but that overall their model “predicts a fall of 38,000 in the Labour Force Survey measure of UK unemployment in the three months to September. As a result, the unemployment rate is forecast to remain at a multi-decade low of 4.3%.”
Or, to put it more simply, unemployment continues to fall and, as we’re seeing here on a daily basis, there are still LOTS of vacancies to be filled!
Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment