· News

Energy firms to increase hiring as complaints calls rise

Rising energy costs could result in thousands of new job opportunities as energy companies look to take on extra staff to deal with a surge in customer calls about switching suppliers or complaints, a report published today has found.

The study by recruitment firm Manpower found the utilities sector was showing "strong signs" of hiring for 2014. The sector posted the highest employment outlook of all sectors, according to the survey, which analyses employers' hiring intentions.

The sector registered an outlook of +9%, which is the difference between the percentage of firms planning to increase and decrease their workforce.

Manpower managing director Mark Cahill said: "We've seen plenty of criticism for the energy companies for hiking gas and electricity bills. However we've noticed the big energy companies are now looking to take on thousands of extra staff to deal with a rising demand in calls.

"Customers are ringing up the gas and electricity firms in greater numbers, perhaps to question their bill or even to switch provider. The effect of this greater volume of calls is that the utility companies now need to hire to meet this demand."

Steady market

The Manpower Employment Outlook survey found the jobs market is "looking steady" for the early stages of 2014. The overall UK outlook is +5% for the first quarter of 2014; this is slightly down from +6% in the final quarter of 2013.

"Going into 2014, the UK jobs market has the characteristics of a swan: it's making steady, serene progress on the surface but a very different picture emerges beneath the water where it is paddling away furiously," Cahill said.

"Continued pressure on pay, underemployment and a lack of the necessary skills among candidates means it's still an employer's market and employees are yet to feel the effects of the economic recovery in their pockets."

He added: "These issues don't look like they will ease up much in the near future."

Southern slump

The regional perspective for the UK shows hiring intentions in London have "slumped" well below the national average to just +1 - down from +11% in 2011.

East Anglia businesses posted the highest outlook of +11%. The hiring outlook among employers in the North East was +7%, and Yorkshire had hiring intentions of +9%.