Data from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has found employers’ confidence in the UK economy has now dropped to the lowest level since mid-2016. The REC’s latest JobsOutlook report states that in the run-up to the general election, confidence levels have fallen to a net figure of -34.
The findings underline the need for this election to focus on work. Employers are ready to invest and significantly more businesses are looking to increase their permanent staffing than decrease it, both in the short term (net: +23) and the medium term (net: +26). However, these ambitions are being held back by political and economic uncertainty, and hiring confidence has dropped back into negative territory (net: -4).
“This month’s figures show that there is a great deal of potential in Britain’s businesses, just waiting to be unleashed,” said Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC. “With so many firms at or close to full capacity, it’s no surprise that employers want to invest in their workforces. And it’s not just permanent staff – hiring intentions for temporary workers are positive too. Recruiters are using all their expertise to help find the right people to fill these vacancies, and three in four employers are happy with the work they’re doing.
Carberry is clear that it is uncertainty holding firms back. He believes an incoming government should prioritise work by ensuring the two-way flexibility of the labour market is protected, allowing employers to recruit the staff they need while also protecting workers.
“Concrete measures like delaying changes to IR35, introducing an affordable two-year temporary work visa, or creating a Good Recruitment Taskforce will support employers and workers to make great work happen,” he says. “By putting people at the heart of its industrial strategy, a new government can help employers to boost productivity and provide good jobs for people across the country.”