REC’s JobsOutlook: Employer confidence continues to build and reaches 12 month high

Released on 26 March 2012

This month’s JobsOutlook report from the REC shows employer confidence increased again in February and now stands at its highest level in the past 12 months. This reflects the steady improvement in hiring intentions that began in December.

The JobsOutlook survey, which tracks future hiring intentions, also reveals:

Increased hiring intentions for permanent staff continues: Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of employers say they are planning to increase their permanent staffing levels over the next three months, with a further 32 per cent planning to maintain staffing levels at the same rate Over the longer term, 57 per cent expect to grow their permanent workforce with a further 42 per cent planning to keep it at the same level.

Rise in demand for agency staff: Thirty one per cent – nearly a third – of all employers said they were planning to grow their temporary workforce over the next three months with another 54 per cent planning to keep them at existing levels. For the longer term, the trend is up higher with 26 per cent looking to increase their contingent labour force and another 63 per cent planning to keep them at their current levels. This represents a ten point rise between January and February and is good news in light of concerns over the potential impact of the Agency Workers Regulations. April 1 since will mark six months since the regulations came into force on October 1 last year.

Two tier effect as a result of public sector cuts: A significant difference has now emerged in the workforce planning profiles of the public and private sectors. Public sector employers are now deploying a range of measures to reduce workforce costs including reduced pay and hours and increased redundancies. Workforce planning in the private sector has now returned to a more stable state with nearly half of employers not making any new adjustments to their plans.

Skills shortages in 2012: Employers continue to report shortages of permanent staff in computing, IT and the telecoms sector. Technical and engineering headed the most sought-after skills in the temporary employment sector.

Commenting on the latest statistics, Roger Tweedy, the REC’s Director of Research said:

“The fact that nearly two thirds of employers continue to predict a slight increase in permanent staffing is clearly a positive sign that is likely to be bolstered by this week’s budget. Overall business and consumer confidence, although still fragile, also seems to be picking up.

"Last year, employer confidence began to build at this time only to fall away sharply over the summer, so it is still early days. However, there are signs that the current momentum in the jobs market will be more durable this time round.”
JobsOutlook is based on a monthly survey of employers with results based on a sample of 600 on a three month rolling basis. To subscribe to JobsOutlook, visit the website,

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