Commenting on the ‘REC‘s Jobs Outlook survey’, Mark Neilson, owner of award winning local recruitment agency Aligra Personnel said “the data in today’s report just confirms what we’re seeing locally. The vast majority of our customers are indicating that they plan to increase their permanent headcounts this year and are far more optimistic about the future.”
The report showed that the majority of employers (80 per cent) plan to take on permanent staff within the next three months, and only seven per cent intend to reduce their numbers, according to the survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). While employers’ hiring intentions remain remarkably strong, they have moderated slightly this month from 84 per cent in December’s report, and 87 per cent in November.
In the medium term (4-12 months), three in four (76 per cent) are planning to recruit, with only one per cent signalling intentions to reduce their permanent workforce. This correlates with a high level (93 per cent) of employers reporting to have ‘no’ or ‘only a little’ spare capacity to increase business.
A rise in demand for permanent staff is especially notable amongst microbusinesses, with a net balance of 74 per cent intending to take on staff in the next three months, compared to 29 per cent who signalled this intent 12 months ago.
December’s survey respondents were also asked about ways to encourage applications from older workers, with issues such as the language used in job adverts highlighted as an area for improvement.
REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “Businesses are increasingly thinking about expanding their numbers and many are telling us that they can’t take on more work without more staff. At the same time, the UK is suffering from skills shortages across the economy and it’s getting harder for hirers to attract and retain the talent they need.
This month’s Jobs Outlook survey also shows that 43 per cent of employers plan to take on more temporary workers in the next three months, and 46 per cent plan to increase temporary staff in the next 4-12 months. The top reason employers give for using agency workers (71 per cent of respondents) is to respond to growth.
The latest official figures on the UK labour market showed that unemployment fell to 5.8 per cent in the quarter to the end of November - its lowest level in six years.
But the data also suggested that changes were weak compared to previous quarters.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of people in employment rose by 37,000 to 30.8 million in the three months to November – the smallest increase since the March 2013 - May 2013 quarter, just before Britain's economy started to recover strongly from the after-effects of the financial crisis.
The REC boss also said companies should employ more mature people as there are one million 50 to 64-year-olds who have been made redundant in the UK.
Employment minister Esther McVey said: “With 50 being the new 30, there are more and more older workers wanting to make the most of their skills and experience in a new career, and they have a hugely valuable contribution to make to any workforce.
“Despite the recent impressive trends in those over 50 getting back into work, older workers still in many cases face out dated stereotypes when it comes to business hiring practices.”
McVey explained that poor advertising means efforts to hire over-55’s are a “missed opportunity” for companies, as they need to make the most of their experiences to help younger workers build their careers.
The number of jobless fell by 58,000 between September and November to 1.9 million - but the smallest decline since the three months to September 2013.
The figures also highlighted that the number of young people without a job continued to be higher than that of adults. The number of jobless 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 30,000 to 764,000 - the first quarterly rise since June-August 2013, the ONS said.
A separate report has also highlighted how the UK's North-South divide has grown bigger than ever, with cities in the South enjoying greater job growth, population growth and business prosperity.
For every 12 jobs created in Southern cities between 2004 and 2013, only one was created in another British city, the report from the Centre for Cities found.