East Anglia’s employers eager to take on staff, but national living wage threatens growth, report finds

Jobcentre Plus on Pottergate. Picture submitted

Jobcentre Plus on Pottergate. Picture submitted - Credit: Evening News © 2009

Employers in East Anglia have the strongest appetite for taking on more staff, according to an influential study.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey has pinpointed the east as the one region in the UK with the highest employment forecast, with a +12pc reading showing that more companies are looking to hire than fire.

But a shortage of recruits in the technology sector is threatening to hold back recruitment growth, according to the report, which collated the findings from interviews with 2,101 UK employers.

Elsewhere across the UK, optimism for hiring in London was twice the national at +8pc, despite its largest industry – finance and business services – recording its weakest outlook for three years, at +4pc.

However, there was stark contrast to figures in the north of England, with the North East (-2pc), North West (0pc) and Yorkshire and Humberside (+3pc) all trailing behind the UK average.

Krissie Davies, operations director at Manpower UK, said: 'The East has the most confident outlook in the country going into the third quarter, and this is the most confident we have seen local employers since the end of 2013.

'There is particularly strong demand for technology professionals, especially in Suffolk. Other firms, particularly in the manufacturing and industrial sectors in Ipswich, are keen to hire, but unwilling to spend the money required to bring in talent.'

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Some employers are scaling back their recruitment plans in response to the government's decision to introduce the national living wage of £7.20 an hour by April 2016, which will give six million people a 6pc pay rise, but heap extra costs on employers, according to Manpower.

'An unintended consequence of the introduction of the new Living Wage is that firms might try to bypass the legislation altogether,' James Hick, ManpowerGroup Solutions managing director, said.

'We anticipate that some employers may look to mitigate the extra costs by taking on more younger or self-employed workers, who are not entitled to the national living wage.

'While on the surface this could be good news for youth unemployment, which currently stands at 16pc, it could push a greater proportion of young people into low-skilled jobs, resulting in an influx of less experienced workers into social care and other sectors hardest hit by the new legislation.'

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