Employers confident over recruitment prospects

Nearly one in five employers expects to recruit more employees by the end of the year, according to figures compiled for the Manpower Employment Outlook report for the fourth quarter of 2007.

Its findings, based on interviews with nearly 52,000 employers worldwide including 2,100 in the UK, suggest that strong demand for finance and business sector staff is driving UK hiring intentions, providing an upbeat end to the year.

The survey also reveals a strong degree of stability. Hiring expectations are broadly in line with the national average for the past 11 quarters, but are the strongest national fourth quarter figures since 2004.

According to the report, 18% of UK employers expect to increase their headcount in the final three months of 2007, compared with just 5% expecting to see a net decrease. Most organisations expect there to be no change.

This gives a positive net figure of 13% – the degree to which expected headcount increases outweigh expected decreases. Adjusted for seasonal factors, there is a 12% positive balance of expectations.

Across the UK, employers in 11 of the 12 regions surveyed predict a positive hiring climate for the October to December period. But Scottish employers are forecasting their weakest period since the fourth quarter of 2002, with a net decrease in headcount predicted.

The most confident employers are those in the West Midlands (+27%) and Yorkshire & Humberside (+22%). Employers in London are now more upbeat about their hiring plans following two periods of muted growth.

…as finance and business lead the pack

Employers in the finance and business sector are most optimistic about their hiring plans for the fourth quarter of the year, the Manpower report shows.

Data collected before the problems engulfing Northern Rock became apparent show that 26% of organisations in this sector are expecting to expand their workforce while just 3% expect to see a reduction – a net employment outlook (NEO) of +23%.

Within this broad sector, business services firms were most likely to predict a growth in recruitment while those in financial services were more restrained.

Hiring confidence is also strong in the transport and communications and mining sectors. However, recent reports of strong growth in manufacturing output are not reflected in hiring intentions, with an NEO of +10%, down 4% over the quarter.

Employers in the agriculture, hotels and retail and utilities sectors were least bullish, with employers in the high street sub-sector having a +4% outlook – a fall of 5% in the past quarter.

Although employers in the hotels and restaurant sub-sector are also cutting back on their predictions, the outlook is up on the same time last year.

…and worldwide prospects are looking good despite tough conditions

Job prospects have weakened across Europe, the Middle East and Africa since the last quarter, but are generally up on the fourth quarter of 2006.

Employers in Sweden (NEO = +17%) recorded their most optimistic results since the Manpower NEO survey was established, with those in Germany (+13%) matching their previous high – recorded in the previous quarter.

Although the survey found varying degrees of optimism from country to country, only employers in Italy failed to record a positive net outlook for the quarter.

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