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Despite candidate shortages, UK employers’ confidence to hire and invest is at its highest

30/07/18 Martin Crapper Managing Director

The latest figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) monthly publication Jobs Outlook – July 2018 – reveal that half of the UK’s employers who are actively looking to recruit permanent roles expect to find a shortage of candidates. This has risen five points higher than the same period last year (March – June 2017). 
The proportion of employers expressing concerns over the sufficient availability of contract and interim workers rose six points this quarter to 72%, which is more than double the figure expressing the same a year earlier (34%).

Despite candidate shortages, UK employers’ confidence to hire and to invest is at its highest for 12 months, but that is still 15 percentage points below the trend before the Brexit referendum. Employers’ confidence in wider economic conditions is also at its peak for the last year, but still 20 points less than before the referendum.
The potential uncertainty of Brexit may be affecting how companies choose to hire. Intention to hire was higher, both in the short and medium term, for contract and interim workers than for permanent staff (by 6 and 4 points, respectively). More employers are using temporary workers to manage uncertainty – up 19 percentage points compared to the same period last year. 

Despite tightening candidate availability, more than four in five (83%) of employers expressed satisfaction with the candidate presented by their recruitment agencies – up 9 points from the same period last year. Since surveyed in April-June '18, this has risen by 5 points year-on-year to 80%. Over the same period, the proportion of employers expressing dissatisfaction reduced from 10% to 7%. 

The proportion of respondents expressing concern over the sufficient availability of temporary candidates rose by 6 points this quarter to 72%. This is more than double the figure expressed a year earlier (34%). The availability of Engineering and Technical candidates ranked third in the skills shortages index. 
REC chief executive Neil Carberry says:
“The underlying trend on hiring is still positive. Amidst the political maelstrom, employers are focused on growing their businesses – and are finding that there are opportunities out there for firms with great product.”
“But we are starting to see the effects of rising uncertainty.  Candidate shortage is likely to be caused by a combination of people being less willing to take a chance on a move, and a falling trend or workers coming from the EU. The move to hiring more temporary rather than permanent staff also reflects employers’ sense that they need to be flexible to adapt to whatever outcome we reach on Brexit.”
“To protect jobs and hiring, businesses across the country will be looking for the government to secure a deal on Brexit that delivers the transition period and simple, ongoing access to the EU workers who can help keep our key industries growing in a time of labour shortage.”

Martin Crapper, Redline Group Managing Director comments: “The report continues to underline the challenge technology employers face in not only identifying suitable candidates, but securing them. It’s a great testament to the innovation and drive in the UK that investment in new product development, manufacturing and professional sales/marketing is generating the highest number of open roles in a decade. What the industry needs is certainty, then a medium-long term plan to invest in the right skills and training for the next generation. We are experiencing our most successful period on record, but still feel we are unable to satisfy every opportunity with the quality and quantity of candidate shortlists as they’re too few in number.”

Redline has undertaken research into candidate offer to acceptance rations for many years. For a copy of our most recent research on the Offer Vs Declination Analysis, please click here

For more information regarding how we can help your business, please contact Redline Group on 01582 450054 or email