Cautious optimism on UK jobs

Jan 13 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

More companies plan to increase staff levels in 2003, with a five percentage point increase over the same period in 2002, according to research published on January 13 by recruitment group Reed

Over 1,400 organisations across the UK were surveyed for the latest Reed Recruitment Index. When polled on their recruitment plans for the coming quarter, the percentage of organisations predicting they will recruit to grow increased from 32 per cent in the first quarter of 2002 to 37 per cent for the first quarter of 2003.

Alongside those companies planning to expand, 52 per cent of organisations plan to recruit to maintain staff levels, the same percentage as last year. Eight per cent plan to downsize, fewer than the 10 per cent planning to make redundancies this time last year.

Sector Variations
Planned growth is highest in large organisations, with 43 per cent of those employing more than 1000 staff planning to expand in the coming quarter (an increase of eight points over last year), compared to 36 per cent for small organisations with under 100 staff. Expansion plans have increased most in the Services field (up six points on last year) and in charitable organisations (up 13 points on last year).

Percentage Point Change (+/-) in Companies Planning to Grow in the First Quarter 2003, by Sector

All Manufac-
Services Retail /Sales Distribu-
Charity Other
+5 -4 -3 +6 +1 0 -1 +13 +7

Regional Variations
Organisations in most geographical regions in the UK predict a rise in growth over the coming quarter, with the biggest increases in Wales and Northern Ireland (a rise of 20 percentage points over last quarter, with 53 and 57 per cent of organisations planning to recruit to grow respectively) and the North East (a rise of 18 percentage points over last quarter, with 54 per cent of organisations in this area recruiting to grow). Only organisations in East Anglia and Midlands predict a fall in growth levels this year.

Percentage Point Change (+/-) in Companies Planning to Grow in the First Quarter 2003, by Area

All Lon-
Home Counties Thames Valley South South West Mid-
East Anglia North East North West Scot-
Wales N. Ire-
+5 +7 +6 +8 +1 +6 -1 -12 +18 +7 +12 +20 +20

Skills Shortages
Sales staff are still in most demand (with 17 per cent of organisations listing them as most in demand) followed by technical / engineering staff (15 per cent).

Demand for accountancy staff has risen by one percentage point over last year to put them in third place, and demand for catering staff has risen by four points to put them fourth.

Top Five Skills Shortages, First Quarter 2003

Specialism Demand +/- on Quarter 1, 2002
Sales 17 per cent +2
Technical / Engineering 15 per cent -3
Accountancy 14 per cent +1
Catering 12 per cent +4
Admin / Secretarial 11 per cent -5

James Reed, Chief Executive of Reed, viewed the findings with cautious optimism.

"2002 was a difficult year for many UK businesses and the job market. It is encouraging to see an improvement, with more organisations now planning to recruit in the coming year, but overall demand still remains below pre-September 11 levels.

"It would be wrong to say the slump in some parts of the employment market has reached an end, but - to borrow Churchill's memorable phrase - we may now be reaching the end of the beginning."

1,421 organisations were surveyed in December 2002 by Reed. 42 per cent were small organisations of up to 100 staff, 39 per cent medium sized with 101- 1000 employees and 16 per cent large organisations with over 1000 staff (3 per cent not stated).

For further information, please contact the Reed Press Office: Katy Nicholson, Press Officer. Tel: 0207 313 7461, Mob: 07712 873780, [email protected] or Tim Runacre. Tel: 0207 313 7458, Mob: 07779 789540, [email protected]