Employers in hiring limbo as uncertainty continues


Uncertainty is impacting staffing decisions, with one third of employers (34 per cent) being unsure about their short-term hiring plans for temporary agency workers, according to the latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC). One third (32 per cent) are also uncertain about agency worker hiring over the next four to 12 months. In addition, the proportion of employers who respond ‘don’t know’ about their medium-term hiring plans for permanent workers has gone up from 10 per cent in February last year to now 18 per cent. 

This month’s JobsOutlook survey also shows that more than a third (35 per cent) of respondents think that economic conditions in the country are getting worse, while only one in five (21 per cent) say they are improving. The net balance of confidence in hiring and investment decisions has fallen to eight, which is the lowest since the referendum.

The JobsOutlook survey of 600 employers also finds:

• Large employers (250+ employees) are especially affected: almost half (47 per cent) are not sure if their organisation will increase or decrease their number of agency workers in the next three months. This is up from 40 per cent last month and from 18 per cent in February last year. 

• Only 18 per cent of employers intend to increase their permanent staff over the next four to 12 months. This is down from 23 per cent at the same point last year.

• The proportion of respondents who plan to increase their temporary agency staff in the medium-term has fallen from 17 per cent in February 2017 to 11 per cent now. 

REC chief executive Kevin Green says: 

“Employment has been rising for the past year. However, we are now seeing that businesses are starting to feel hesitant about hiring. This might indicate the impact the current political and economic uncertainty has had on employer confidence. Instead of thinking ahead, businesses are likely to make more ad-hoc decisions about recruitment. The shrinking number of candidates doesn’t help with this as employers continue to struggle with labour and skills shortages. 

“We’ve now got a year left before Brexit happens and we still don’t know what this means for employers or EU staff in the country. Businesses need clarity in order to feel confident about the UK’s economic conditions. The government needs to get rid of this huge question mark and instead ensure that businesses and our successful labour market are supported.”

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