Businesses in the east positive on recruitment despite skills gap

A person passing a Job Centre Plus as the jobs outlook is at its strongest level since the recession

A person passing a Job Centre Plus as the jobs outlook is at its strongest level since the recession, with increasing numbers of employers planning to take on staff, according to a new report. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo Danny Lawson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

East of England businesses are feeling increasingly positive about hiring staff – despite an emerging skills gap, research has found.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey found that recruitment confidence across the region exceeded the national average of +8pc, as employers felt more positive about boosting their workforce with a +12pc reading in the third quarter.

The result proved strong for the east compared to the rest of the UK, with only the South West proving more positive at +15pc, while Yorkshire and Humberside was in line with the national picture at +8pc, and Northern Ireland looked likely to shed staff at -5pc.

But anecdotal evidence suggests that the dearth of skilled workers was getting worse in the east, while employee loyalty took a hit as skilled and experienced workers looked to seek out new opportunities.

It comes as job creation across the UK was now at its strongest level since the recession, the study found.

Jason Greaves, operations manager at Manpower UK, said: 'Across the East of England, the jobs market has continued to show the signs of improvement that we have become used to in recent years, with a very noticeable uplift this quarter in the number of permanent roles that are coming online.

'In spite of the volume of new roles that are being created, and the number of candidates that are coming through to us, a common theme we are experiencing is that the vast majority of the people applying for these roles lack the relevant skills and experience that employers are seeking.

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'This trend of candidates applying for positions that they are not suited to and do not have the required skill set for is particularly the case in Norwich and Peterborough.

'In addition, candidate loyalty appears to be in decline among those that do have the relevant skills and experience as applicants seek out the best paid and most interesting roles.

'Elsewhere in the region, Cambridge is seeing a surge in demand for skilled workers in the manufacturing and production sectors as businesses react and staff-up to manage an influx of orders.

'But, as with the other areas in the East, a noticeable skills gap is developing with the few good candidates being snapped up by employers leaving a shortage of suitable people in the jobs market.'

Elsewhere, Manpower said hiring intentions in Scotland were at a seven-year high despite uncertainty being expressed in some quarters about independence.

Mark Cahill, managing director of Manpower, said: 'Consistency has been the byword for the UK's employment outlook over the last 18 months. While job prospects have been strong, it's only now that we're seeing a return to pre-recession hiring plans.

'We're seeing broad-based growth across permanent roles, the self-employed and contractors.'

The research is based on responses from 2,101 UK employers and is used as a barometer for the state of the nation by the Bank of England

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