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Employers' confidence in hiring rises

Public sector hiring plans are positive for the first time in more than a year

Employers have experienced a surge of positivity around hiring against a backdrop of record employment and ongoing Brexit negotiations, according to research from Manpower Group.

The Manpower Group Employment Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,100 UK employers. It found that there has been a one point uptick in optimism with a national outlook of +6%. The rise in positivity among public sector employers was a key factor in the improved national picture, with hiring intentions in this sector up four points to +2% (the biggest rise since 2015).

James Hick, managing director for ManpowerGroup Solutions said that this is the first time in more than a year that public sector hiring plans have been in positive territory. “June’s general election outcome was seen in part as a rejection of austerity, and it looks like the public sector is powering on, as hiring ramps up,” he said.

“At the beginning of the year there were 86,000 vacancies in the NHS; the government recently announced that it will train an additional 1,500 doctors a year and create 20,000 new mental health posts. With the health service so heavily dependent on EU nationals these hiring targets are going to be extremely difficult to meet. And that’s just the NHS – there are also tens of thousands of vacancies in other government departments.”

In London, where housing and the broader cost of living is highest, confidence has halved to +4 since last quarter. The east of England'a forecast was the most positive at +11, while employers in the South East were also confident with an outlook of +10.

David Willett, a director at The Open University, said there are still problems when it comes to recruitment however. "Many organisations are still looking to hire new staff, but it can be a difficult and time-consuming process,” he said. “Employers are struggling to find talent with the skills they require – particularly when it comes to transferable skills like management and IT."

Willett suggested employers look to developing existing employees to cope with skills shortages. "Instead of incurring the costs of recruiting new talent organisations need to consider the potential within their existing workforce, and use opportunities such as the apprenticeship levy to their advantage," he advised. "With skills shortages still posing a significant issue for UK organisations work-based learning provides a viable solution, without all of the costs associated with bringing in new talent. Those who are able to embrace workplace training will find themselves more agile, standing them in good stead within the unpredictable political and economic climate."