Speaking in reaction to the latest Manpower employment outlook survey which shows that employer forecasts have fallen into negative hiring territory for the first time since 1994, Mark Cahill, managing director for the firm said: “At a time when the public sector faces intense pressure to slash spending, its employers must be careful not to incur further financial burden by making short-sighted decisions. Workforce transformation is vital to the future success of the public sector and the challenge for employers is to economise, optimise and transform, without compromising frontline services.
“By following the example of the private sector, where innovative solutions such as flexible working, internal redeployment programmes and well-managed non-permanent workforces have supported companies through the recession, the public sector can begin to develop a smart, sustainable talent strategy.”
The survey of 2,100 employers found net employment intentions for the public sector have dropped to -1%, down from 0% in the previous quarter, whilst the country's net employment outlook has remained the same at 1%.
The finance and business services sector is leading growth, with hiring intentions of +7% since the beginning of the year, it remains the most positive sector for the third consecutive quarter. Construction sector employers continue to report weak job prospects with an outlook of -5%, although employer optimism has improved considerably since its weakest point during the recession of -20%. Manufacturing has also improved for the fourth consecutive quarter to reach +2%, which, says the survey, can be linked to the increase in UK exports as the pound continues to weaken.
Cahill said: “Employers are recognising that cost-cutting doesn’t always mean reducing headcount, and are making smart business decisions such as utilising transferrable skills in the workforce, evaluating the real cost of headcount reduction, and pioneering new working practices. For many, overhead savings can be achieved by sharing resources with like-minded organisations, such as administration, HR and finance. This, teamed with the engagement of a flexible workforce, will allow employers to build the necessary business infrastructure to deliver output-focused solutions.”
Looking at some of the regional findings, employers in the south east report the most positive hiring intentions at +9%. In contrast, west midlands employers are the least optimistic at -5%, whilst in the capital employers report a slight decline in hiring confidence since last quarter to -2%.
has warned that half a million public sector jobs could be shed over the next five years as the new coalition government begins to tackle the £167 billion deficit.