UK recruitment to pick up despite uncertain outlook

Despite an uncertain economic outlook, many of Britain’s employers still
plan to take on more staff in the next quarter, according to new research.

The Quarterly Survey of Employment Prospects, by recruitment company
Manpower, shows that UK employment prospects are finally back to pre-11
September levels, while a separate survey by Abbey National business reveals
that just 4 per cent of businesses think they will cut employee numbers.

The Manpower survey asked more than 2,000 UK companies if they expect an
increase, decrease or no change in their staffing levels for the quarter ahead.
The survey shows that 25 per cent of UK employers will be increasing staffing
levels in the period January-March 2003, and 13 per cent decreasing staff

In a separate survey by Abbey National business, one in five companies said
they plan to take on more staff over the next five months.

More than half (51 per cent) say they intent to maintain staff levels and 24
per cent said staffing levels will be linked to business performance. Just 4
per cent say they will definitely be cutting staff numbers.

However, in a poll on, 53 per cent of 300 respondents
said they expect to make job cuts during 2003.

John Philpott, CIPD chief economist, is optimistic employment prospects will
improve during 2003. "The economy will be picking up, but not steaming
ahead," he said.

He warned that while many companies are recruiting, they are also culling
less-capable staff through ongoing redundancies.

Philpott said the biggest growth area will be public sector recruiting as
government investment increases.

He also said that the labour market will remain tight – making it hard to
find good staff.

Because of this, he said, companies will look to improve training and

"[Business] will want to make more of the people who they already
have," he said.

But with this increase in training, he predicts, will come an increase in
the need to measure and prove the worth of any investment.

By Quentin Reade

Do you expect an increase or decrease in the staffing levels at your
location between January and March 2003?

                                    Increase           Decrease
                                    (%)                  (%)

1st quarter 2002           16

2nd quarter 2002          26

3rd quarter 2002          24

4th quarter 2002           28

1st quarter 2003           25

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