Employers adopting wait and see approach on hiring post Brexit

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Two thirds of employers are adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude to hiring, with two thirds planning to keep permanent headcount static over the next three months, according to a survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation.

The Jobs Outlook survey of 600 employers from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation shows that only one in five are planning to hire in the next three months. This is despite the fact that eight in 10 UK businesses report operating with either ‘little’ or ‘no’ capacity to take on more work without creating more jobs.

Employers say they anticipate difficulties finding appropriately skilled candidates for jobs in in engineering, construction, hospitality, and health and social care.

The survey also shows that before the referendum, 45 per cent believed economic conditions to be ‘getting better’, against 21 per cent who believed conditions were deteriorating. ONS figures released today show the growth of the UK economy accelerated in the months leading up to the referendum vote. Meanwhile, a survey from the TUC shows workers in the UK have suffered the biggest fall in wages among the world’s richest countries since the 2008 crisis, with women particularly affected.

REC Chief Executive Kevin Green says: “Whilst it is too early to draw conclusions about the impact the EU referendum result will have on hiring activity, it is encouraging to see how strong the UK jobs market was in the months leading up to the vote.

“Data from the ONS shows that employment grew by 624,000 in the last year and we have our best ever employment rate of 74.4 per cent. This supports the idea that the jobs market will be able to withstand any disruption to the economic outlook.

“At the same time, there are still lots of employers finding it difficult to hire the staff they need in both highly skilled sectors such as engineering and at the other end of the market in hospitality and healthcare.

“With British applicants already in short supply, policy makers must ensure that employers can continue to access the people they need from Europe to fill the jobs available. This must be top of the agenda to safeguard the strength of the UK jobs market and sustainable economic growth which benefits us all.”

Meanwhile, Glaxo SmithKline and McDonald’s both announced plans to expand their UK jobs. GSK announced plans to invest £275m to expand its UK manufacturing sites and McDonald’s said it would create 5,000 new jobs by the end of next year. However, on Thursday three sector bodies outlined gloomy prospects for their industries. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said its members were not optimistic about the prospects for growth, jobs and investment after Brexit; the British Retail Consortium said jobs were being lost even leading up to the referendum; and RICS, which represents chartered surveyors, said there was less work in construction and that uncertainty caused by Brexit had led to delayed investment and concerns about the availability of credit.

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