Employer confidence in hiring returns to positive territory for the first time since the beginning of 2022, according to new Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) data.
In February-April 2023, the net balance of employers’ confidence in making hiring and investment decisions was +2 – restoring to positive territory the first time since January-March 2022. Employers’ confidence in the UK economy has also started to improve to -43 from -51. As confidence improved, employers reported that forecast demand for both permanent and temporary workers in the next 3 months rose to +18. Hiring intentions for permanent staff in the next 4 to 12 months also rose to +21 from +19. Forecast demand for temporary agency workers in the next four to 12 months, however, decreased slightly to +9 from +12. This may reflect firms feeling more able to make permanent hires.
Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:
“This data is good news – it shows firms starting to feel more confident again. Employers always feel more confident in the business they know – their own – so it is no surprise that views of the wider economy are lagging a bit. But a return to hiring is likely to re-emphasise the people and skills challenges we face. As the REC has pointed out, the UK could leave £39 billion of prosperity on the shelf – two Elizabeth Lines, every year – unless we can tackle the structural challenge we face on productivity and labour supply.
“Businesses across the country need to step up on their workforce planning to grow effectively – recruiters are there to help them with that. But we also need government action – from skills reform to immigration and employment regulation. As part of a cohesive industrial strategy, we need to start putting the people stuff first.”
JobsOutlook is produced by the REC in partnership with Savanta ComRes. Savanta ComRes interviewed 602 UK employers involved in hiring by telephone between 1 February and 3 May 2023. Data were weighted to be representative of UK adults in employment by region, broad industry sector and public/private split. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables are available at www.comresglobal.com.
Economic modelling for the REC published in July 2022 found that with a 10% spike in demand in the economy, and the labour market restricted by shortages, the UK economy would shrink by between 1.2% and 1.6% by 2027, relative to where it would be without these shortages. This could cost the economy anywhere between £30 billion and £39 billion every year – equivalent to losing almost the entire current defence budget or two Elizabeth Lines annually. For more read REC’s Overcoming shortages – How to create a sustainable labour market – July 2022.