Employers more optimistic

The last few months have seen a series of mixed signals given out on the employment market, but a new survey has suggested that employers are feeling more confident about the future.

According to the most recent JobsOutlook poll from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), nearly three-quarters of employers (74 per cent) are planning to boost their workforces over the next three months.

A further two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents to the survey expect to increase their permanent workforce in the next 12 months.

The figures showed that freezes in recruitment, redundancies and reduced hours are all significantly down.

Meanwhile rises in staffing levels have gone up for the third consecutive month to 19 per cent, an increase of 7 per cent on last month.

There was similar good news on temporary placements, with 76 per cent of businesses aiming either to prime or to maintain temporary staffing levels in the short term. 

The trends appears set to continue for the longer term, too, as 79 per cent of respondents reported a willingness to raise or hold steady their use of agency staff over the coming 12 months.

Roger Tweedy, the REC's director of research, said: "Employers are more positive about their hiring intentions, which reflects an improvement in overall business confidence.

"It is too early to predict whether this will translate into significant jobs growth by the end of the year but we remain confident that the private sector can absorb the fall-out from public sector cuts."

Mr Tweedy described some of the media reactions to this month's official employment figures as "overly negative" and argued the importance of not talking the jobs market down.

He added: "Employers are recognising the need to ramp up their recruitment activity in order to attract high-potential candidates and move their business forward. This month's Jobs Outlook indicates that employer caution is starting to lift, we can afford to be more upbeat about the gradual recovery of the UK labour market."