The proportion of employers who believe economic conditions in the UK are getting better outnumber those who think they are getting worse for the first time since August last year. 30 per cent of employers are feeling more confident in the future prospects of the UK economy, compared to 29 per cent who say they are getting worse. At the same time more employers are feeling confident to make hiring and investment decisions with 32 per cent saying they expect confidence to get better and a NET balance (confident minus not confident) of +14.
Despite the improvement in confidence, employers still show signs of uncertainty in committing to permanent hiring plans overall. However, 41 per cent of employers are using temporary agency workers to manage any uncertainty. This was up 9 percentage points compared to the same period last year.
As official ONS figures revealed this week that regular pay growth is above inflation compared with a year earlier, employers have to compete with each other to attract candidates. Just under half (46%) of UK employers expressed concerns over the sufficient availability of candidates for permanent hire, particularly in the public service areas of health and social care and education.
REC director of policy Tom Hadley says:
“It is encouraging that employers are feeling more optimistic about the UK economy and that this is having a positive impact on hiring intentions of temporary staff. This underlines the importance of a vibrant temporary and contract staffing market in times of uncertainty and is good news for workers who seek more flexibility in their careers to fit around their studies or family life.
“However, there is a way to go to get to a place where employers feel confident in making those longer-term plans for permanent hiring. At the same time, employers are reporting increasing concerns with regards over the lack of candidates for key roles. This requires a twin-track approach from government: delivering on the commitment to ramp up the UK skills base, whilst also developing an evidence-based post-Brexit immigration systems that maintain access to workers from the EU.
“The UK jobs market remains a success story but we must act now to address looming challenges that will impact on both demand and supply of staff.”