'Cautious yet positive' approach to hiring in 2014

Friday 13 December 2013

While contractors will be in high demand in 2014, umbrella companies should expect employers to take a cautious yet positive approach to hiring.

The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of over 65,000 hiring managers across the globe found that ongoing economic uncertainty and disruption will have a relatively limited impact on the outlook of businesses, but will cause them to 'tread gently' when taking on workers.

It was observed that employers in 34 of 42 countries and territories expect to increase payrolls in the next three months, compared to just 29 in Q4 2013.

Hiring plans have also strengthened in exactly half of countries and territories. While intentions have weakened in 15 surveyed areas quarter-over-quarter, they are now stronger in 21 compared with a year ago.

First quarter hiring plans are strongest in Taiwan, India, New Zealand, Colombia and Singapore, indicating a wealth of international opportunities for contractors.

The weakest outlooks can be found in Italy, Ireland, Finland, Spain, Slovakia and Belgium.

Darryl Green, ManpowerGroup president, said: "The Eurozone recovery remains tepid but employers in the region continue to show signs of cautious optimism. Crucially, Germany shows stability but talent shortages there are a recurring theme and recruitment strategies need to be adjusted accordingly to embrace flexibility.

"The Republic of Ireland's impending exit from international bailout is a positive step. Meanwhile, the UK unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in more than three years but the high number of people in part-time work means that serious challenges remain."

Asia is the site of the most opportunities it seems, with Japanese employers reporting the most optimistic hiring intentions since Q2 2008. In China there is no change in hiring plans, with a steady Net Employment Outlook of 13 per cent for the coming quarter.

Jeffrey A. Joerres, ManpowerGroup chairman and chief executive officer, thinks these trends could be interpreted in different ways, however.

"Whether you view labour market growth as steady or stagnant may well depend which side of the interview table you're sitting on," he said.

"Employers will see these gains as a sensibly cautious approach to ongoing certain uncertainty, while job seekers may interpret the results as a sign of labour market stasis."

Indeed, he claims - with a few exceptions - there is a "general retreat in employer confidence" globally.

Looking to G7 countries, hiring is relatively stable. Many employers admit that they intend to add to their payrolls but at a more modest rate than that experienced prior to the recession.

This means contractors could encounter pools of marginally positive hiring intent, opposed to a blanket drive for increased payroll.

However, a recent 'Hiring for Growth' members meeting came out with a slightly different interpretation of the coming year, with experts agreeing that demand for staff would increase.

It was identified that sectors such as HR and financial services are seeing a rise in the use of interim managers and contractors to drive projects and address skills gaps.

Nevertheless, employers will be putting an emphasis on qualifications and professionalism in their search for staff.

By Victoria McDonnell

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