Recruitment activity breaks into double figures

Almost one in five companies (18%) is planning to take on more staff over the next three months, but three-quarters (74%) do not anticipate any change in recruitment activity, according to the latest Employment Outlook Survey from recruitment company Manpower.

The survey shows a minor increase – just 2% – in recruitment activity compared to the same time in 2005, giving a Net Employment Outlook (NEO) of 11% (the difference between the percentage of companies recruiting and those planning cutbacks).

The Manpower study of more than 2,000 employers predicts a stable outlook for recruitment for the rest of the year, with just 7% of companies anticipating a drop in recruitment.

The recruitment forecast is much the same as the last quarter, with 76% of businesses predicting no change in recruitment, compared with 71% in the first three months of 2006.

…but South East dips to seven-year low…

The South East is the most cautious region across the UK, as it is the only area with a negative Net Employment Outlook (NEO) (-1) for the next three months, according to the Manpower survey.

The outlook in the South East is the poorest it has been since 1999 and is the weakest fourth quarter on record. Just 12% of employers in the region anticipate an increase in recruitment, while 13% predict a reduction, a 6% fall on the same period last year.

The North West is the most buoyant with an NEO of 19%, the strongest fourth quarter since 2000. The forecast is 9% up on the last quarter, with 22% of North West employers planning to recruit, and just 3% anticipating cutbacks.

The East reports the most stable NEO, with 86% of employers in the region expecting no change in staffing levels in the fourth quarter of 2006, while 11% plan to increase their headcount, and just 3% expect a drop, giving an NEO of 8%.

Wales is broadly on a par with the national average with an NEO of 10%, although this is 10% down on the same period in 2005 – 14% of Welsh businesses are planning a recruitment drive over the next three months, while 4% are anticipating cutbacks.

…despite finance sector optimism

Employers in all nine industry sectors are planning to take on more staff in the last quarter of 2006, the Manpower Employment Outlook survey shows.

Finance and business services leads the way with an NEO of 23%, which is significantly stronger than the 9% recorded in the previous quarter and 12% more than the same time last year. Almost a third (31%) of companies in this sector expect to recruit in the next three months, while 8% expect cutbacks.

The agricultural sector is the least positive with an NEO of just 1%.

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