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Employers make hiring plans amid Brexit pessimism

More employers think economic conditions will get worse (33%) than get better (23%) as a result of Brexit

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)'s monthly Jobs Outlook found that employers are still uncertain about hiring, with 20% of those surveyed stating they ‘don’t know’ what their plans are for temporary agency workers in the next four to 12 months. However, this has fallen from 32% last month as some employers begin to make plans.

The survey of 600 employers also showed that 22% of those who hire temporary agency workers now plan to increase headcount over the next four to 12 months, compared to just 11% of employers who said this last month.

Only 17% of employers who hire permanent staff are planning increases in the next four to 12 months. This is little changed from the previous Jobs Outlook, but down from 22% this time last year after a gradual decline.

Short-term hiring plans remain similar to last month, with 15% of employers planning to increase permanent staff and 16% planning to up their temporary workforce.

REC director of policy and professional services Tom Hadley said: “Businesses are still pessimistic about the future of the economy. However, the one-year countdown to Brexit [has started] and it’s got to a point where they can’t put off making hiring plans any longer.

“Employers are potentially turning to temps, which could bring opportunities to candidates interested in temporary work and the flexibility it affords, but is also a sign employers are affected by economic and political uncertainty. It’s less risky to bring people in to meet demand and keep them for a limited time, rather than spend the time hiring a new permanent member of staff when you don’t know what business will look like in the next year."

Hadley urged the government to provide greater certainty for employers. “Improving the mood of employers rests in the hands of the government. The announcement that EU workers who arrive in the transition period can stay is a positive step, but businesses need to know what access they’ll have to EU workers after that time period so they can plan ahead effectively,” he said.

Meanwhile, separate research from Monster has revealed that the number of EU workers searching for jobs in the UK has dropped by 11.4% since the referendum.

The UK jobs market has seen the biggest reduction in Romanian job seekers, with Romanian search traffic for UK jobs dropping by 52%, followed closely by Portugal (-42%) and Poland (-35%).

The data also reinforces skills shortage concerns across various UK industries, with IT (17.27%) and engineering (13.75%) among the top 10 sectors receiving fewer searches from EU countries.