Small firms lead the recruitment boom

2004

The UK's small and medium-sized firms are providing the major impetus to the growth in recruitment, according to new research.

The latest quarterly Manpower Employment Outlook Survey reports that the balance of small firms looking to recruit staff has risen by four per cent to 21 per cent over the past three months. The figure for medium-sized organisations has also risen six per cent to 17 per cent.

These compare to just 11 per cent for large corporations.

These optimistic hiring intentions represent a significant increase on the beginning of this year. In January a balance of 17 per cent of small firms and only two per cent of larger businesses expected to expand their workforces.

But as other recent figures show, this upsurge in recruitment activity is already being matched by growing skills shortages.

Last month's Cranfield School of Management's / Daily Telegraph Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) suggested that while half of all employers are looking to expand their workforce, almost a quarter – 23 per cent – say the number of unfilled vacancies will go up over the next six months.

According to the Federation Small Businesses (FSB), SMEs cannot compete with larger organisations in terms of salary and benefits and so need to look at other ways of attracting talent, such as trumpeting higher levels of responsibility, greater work variety and more flexibility.

Manpower's Hazel Detsiny said that the findings were encouraging.

“Small businesses play an important role in the UK economy and reports of their intent to continue expanding their workforce are particularly encouraging,” she said.