Employment prospects reach a ten-year high

Jan 03 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Despite the uncertain economic outlook, Britain's employers are planning to take on more staff in the next quarter, according to Manpower's Quarterly Survey of Employment Prospects.

The survey, now in its thirty-seventh year of publication, shows that UK employment prospects have reached a 10-year high for quarter one - and are finally back to pre-September 11th 2001 levels.

The Manpower survey asks over 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 12 per cent of UK employers will be increasing staffing levels in the period January-March 2003, up 11 points from a year ago, with every one of the 21 sectors and 11 regions surveyed predicting new jobs.

According to Manpower’s Hazel Detsiny, "confidence is strong despite the uncertain economic climate. Manpower's business bears this out. Although we have had a challenging year, the numbers of staff out working are up over the last couple of months and demand for temporary and permanent staff in the first quarter is strong."

The best employment prospects are in the Public sector, which has seen the greatest year-on-year increase since the survey began. The Service sector is at its highest Q1 level since 1994 and whilst Manufacturing has reported a balance half of the national average (6 per cent versus 12 per cent), there are signs of optimism for next year with the Manufacturing sector returning its highest Q1 net balance since 1995.

Forty one per cent of employers in the Health sector are planning to take on more staff in quarter 1 - up 21 per cent year-on-year, reaching a 10-year high. Construction is strong, with 20 per cent of employers recruiting. Hotels & Restaurants is also looking positive - 16 per cent of companies will be taking on more staff, up 30 points year-on-year. This is the highest balance for Q1 in the last decade and moves Hotels & Restaurants from 13th place to 3rd in the sector league table.

Public Administration & Defence is showing its highest Q1 prospects in the last ten years, with a balance of 11 per cent of employers hiring.

Fifteen per cent of High Street retailers are anticipating taking on more staff in the first quarter, up 17 points year-on-year. This is a promising bounce-back for the sector, which has seen a fall in jobs for the fourth quarter (usually the strongest for work in the sector) and traditionally sees a severe dip in employment prospects after Christmas.

All UK regions are positive. Nineteen per cent of Welsh employers will be recruiting in the first quarter, up 19 points year-on-year. Sixteen per cent of Scottish and 15 per cent of West Midlands employers will also be taking on more staff. These are the best Q1 results for these three regions, which are the top three in the UK. Scotland is the highest climber, from 7th in the table to 2nd in a year.

Eleven per cent of employers in the North West are planning to hire, up 21 points from a year ago. The East Midlands has a balance of 15 per cent, the region's best figure for Q1. London (9 per cent), Yorkshire & Humberside (7 per cent) and the South West (14 per cent) are also all performing strongly, with the second best Q1 figures in the last 10 years.