MANPOWERGROUP EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK SURVEY REVEALS DROP IN HIRING CONFIDENCE FOLLOWING SIX MONTHS OF GROWTH
- Outlook of +4% for the region
- Public sector demand bucks trend
- Job seekers demanding instant responses from interview process
13 MARCH 2018: On the day of the Chancellor’s first Spring Statement, employers in Wales is revealed to be more cautious about hiring, with an Outlook of +4%, almost half of what it was the previous quarter according to ManpowerGroup, the world’s workforce experts.
The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,102 UK employers. It asks whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter. It is the most comprehensive, forward-looking employment survey of its kind and is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the UK government.
Jason Greaves, Operations Director, said: “After a strong start to the year, hiring confidence in Wales has dropped this quarter. Surprisingly, this trend is being bucked by strong demand coming from the public sector, despite the NHS facing ever-tighter budgets. This may be because NHS trusts are seeking more flexibility from their workforce by cross training support staff to free up nurses, allowing them to concentrate on patients.
“Meanwhile, candidates are becoming increasingly demanding around the recruitment process, despite this drop in optimism. Candidates are looking for a more responsive process, with immediate feedback. Employers have been quite slow to introduce this so far, but it is something that needs to be given serious consideration.”
Nationally, employers have recorded their highest level of jobs optimism in over a year, with an Outlook of +6%. This unexpected lift comes amid sluggish macro-economic data and continuing uncertainty about how we will leave the EU, despite the Brexit clock ticking. But there are worrying signs that surface-level optimism is masking a more uncertain reality.
James Hick, Managing Director for ManpowerGroup Enterprise comments: “This surprise jump in confidence could actually be a mirage. Take the best-performing sector, Hospitality, which is up seven points to +16%, a huge fourteen-point rise since this time last year. On the surface, this might look like a sector that is firing on all cylinders, but this is at odds with the almost daily diet of news about struggles in the sector, such as Jamie’s Italian and Byron Burger. Our view on the data is that it shows how desperate employers are to fill vacancies in an industry that is heavily dependent on immigration, with up to 24% of all staff coming from the EU. Given that the sector employs around 3 million people, losing that proportion of the workforce would leave a shortfall of three-quarters of a million people. In recent weeks we’ve seen more reports that the number of EU workers arriving in the UK is falling – particularly those from eastern Europe – and employers are racing to make up the shortfall.”
Now that the Bank of England has warned that it plans to raise interest rates at an accelerated pace over the next two years, there’s also a question mark over the impact this will have on the economy. We are seeing early signs of caution in the bellwether sectors of Manufacturing and Construction, which are often the first to show signs of economic strain. Manufacturing is down by three points to +4%, a sign that the Brexit currency boost to the sector might be coming to an end.
Hick again: “The Construction sector has experienced a huge drop in hiring confidence this quarter, with a six-point fall to just +1%, down 12 points on this time last year. This chimes with recent PMI data showing a slowdown in all activity, even housebuilding, which saw its worst performance since July 2016. Despite political commitments around housing, the data raises questions around the future of policies such as Help to Buy. This uncertainty is causing developers to sit on their hands – a stance which may have been exacerbated by the recent house price falls in London.”
With a sluggish housing market and a flat Outlook in finance and business services (+6%), London sits towards the bottom of the regional table with an Outlook of +2%. Only Yorkshire and the Humber is more pessimistic with a seven-point fall to +1%. Meanwhile, the picture is a bit rosier in some other parts of the country. The East tops the regional charts at +10%, and although confidence in the East Midlands (+9%) and West Midlands (+9%) has fallen two points each from last quarter, they are still riding high in the regional table, and the Midlands remains a strong engine for national growth.
For further information, please contact:
Brunswick –Serena Balachandra 020 7404 5959
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