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UK business leaders' recruitment plans are more upbeat than their European counterparts

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Business leaders' growing confidence in economic recovery has translated into a boost in employment with 42% of CEOs planning to increase their headcount in the next year.

According to a new global report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, UK business leaders are more upbeat than their European counterparts when it comes to recruitment. In the Netherlands only 34% of CEOs expect to increase headcount, followed by France (30%), Italy (29%), Germany (27%) and Spain (9%) but while the UK is leading the European pack, further afield Brazil (61%), India (59%) and China (53%) are showing an even quicker return to bolstering their workforces.

Business growth looks set to remain homegrown as only 14% of UK CEOs in 2010 see new geographic markets as an opportunity to grow their business, compared with 22% in 2009 and 28% in 2008.

Ian Powell, UK chairman and senior partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "It is encouraging to see that UK CEOs are beginning, if somewhat cautiously, to prepare for an upturn. Growth expectations have been severely impacted by the challenges of the financial and economic crisis and the fears of a protracted recession are beginning to recede.

"However, there remain significant variances in UK business leaders' short-term and long-term outlooks, perhaps as a result of concerns about how UK public debt levels are reduced and the continued limitation in lending. Across the world outlook is even more divided geographically with emerging economies showing much stronger signs of confidence than CEOs in the developed territories.

"The upturn in employment prospects will be widely welcomed but this news must be tempered given that the bounce-back may be a response to employment cuts made in the UK over the past 12 months.

"The fact that CEOs are less likely to seek out new geographic markets is a significant concern, given the risk it places on UK competitiveness. Seeking out business growth opportunities from overseas is vital to future recovery and long-term sustainable business growth."