According to a recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry and Accenture more companies are planning to create jobs than downsize over the next 12 months. The Employment Trends Survey On the Up which covers businesses employing more than one million people between them, found that just over half (51%) of firms expected their workforce to be larger in a year’s time. If true this will be the first increase since the advent of the recession in 2008.
The growth is not restricted to London, with the private sector workforce expected to grow across all regions; particularly in Yorkshire and Humberside and the east of Midlands.
Encouragingly, there are also an increasing number of opportunities for young people to find work, with companies planning to take on more graduates and apprentices.
Some key findings of the 2013 survey are:
- Jobs for permanent staff are increasing more rapidly than temporary posts, with a balance of +18% (35% plan higher recruitment and 17% lower) of firms planning to raise permanent hires and +14% their temporary workforce (29% higher, 15% lower).
- Graduate job prospects are picking up with +20% of organisations planning to increase their graduate in-take in the next 12 months (33% plan to increase with 13% reducing).
- Firms are rapidly growing their apprentice numbers ( by 34%) and four in five firms (81%) expect new job opportunities to open up for young people in the coming year.
- Almost all firms (97%) see flexible employment patterns, such as use of agency workers and zero-hour contracts, as either vital or important to the UK economy.
Commenting on firms’ positive hiring intentions, Olly Benzecry, managing director for Accenture in the UK and Ireland, noted: “The news that firms are expecting to grow their workforces is another welcome sign of the UK’s economic recovery. The skills agenda is critical to not only sustain this growth but to make it inclusive, increasing employability and opportunities for young people who are not in a job, training or education”.
Businesses Take a Cautious Approach to Pay
The survey also reveals a continued cautious approach to pay, and highlights the key role played by flexible contracts in sustaining growth and job creation. Only 7% intended to raise pay for staff by more than the Retail Price Index rate of inflation, while 42% expected pay to increase in line with RPI. Some 39% planned a below inflation increase and 8% intended to freeze pay – although this was new low in the annual survey.
Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director argued that “The minimum wage successfully acts as a floor on pay, protecting workers while ensuring jobs can continue to be created. The living wage can only remain an aspiration that helps some firms pay more, but it must remain voluntary. Moving to a statutory approach would undoubtedly hit jobs and opportunity”.
Overall, the results of the study indicate that UK businesses are gradually repossessing their confidence as they demonstrate positive hiring intentions. The findings also suggest a considerable increase in graduate and permanent jobs, a sign that the private sector’s prospects are rising to their best level since the onset of the recession.
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