Recruitment still buoyant - especially at the top


Despite fragile business confidence, more than four out of 10 organisations in Britain anticipate an increase in recruitment activity over the next six months.

The latest Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) from Cranfield School of Management and The Daily Telegraph suggests that the increase in recruitment activity is beginning to slow, with 41 per cent of the 1,249 responding organisations expecting overall recruitment activity to increase, compared to 48 per cent last quarter.

A further 17 per cent expect recruitment to decrease, compared to 12 per cent last quarter.

But the figures contain is good news for senior staff. One in three organisations expect recruitment activity for managerial and professional staff to increase compared to only seven per cent who expect it to decrease.

For board-level positions, meanwhile, it remains a sellers market. The proportion of employers expecting difficulties recruiting at board level has risen from 30 per cent last quarter to 42 per cent this quarter.

Overall however, organisations are experiencing fewer recruitment difficulties, especially in larger organisations.

"There are signs that the labour market is easing somewhat in the face of uncertainty in business confidence, with lower levels of labour turnover and fewer difficulties overall, but the evidence so far is patchy," said Shaun Tyson, Professor of Human Resource Management at Cranfield School of Management.

"We need to see if this is a temporary phenomenon, and to look at the trends in future surveys to see what effects, if any, there are from recent events which occurred after this survey was completed. At the moment recruitment activity is still on the increase we believe."

The need to recruit managerial and professional staff remains particularly high in engineering (where 60 per cent of employers expect to recruit), production (51 per cent), sales (46 per cent) and computing/IT (42 per cent).

Pay inflation, meanwhile, looks set to remain low, with almost nine out of 10 organisations expecting pay increases to stay in line with inflation at between two and three per cent.

Based on the evidence of recruitment advertising levels, The Daily Telegraph's Steve Playford said that managerial and professional recruitment, at least, appeared to be buoyant.

"Advertising revenue has held steady year-on-year, despite the downturn in business confidence," he said.

"There have been a number of significant announcements regarding jobs losses in recent weeks - for example Rover, Asda and Dickens and Jones - but the need for skilled people is undiminished, so recruitment activity remains buoyant."