Game changing’ year for UK jobs but world waits and sees

Wednesday 11 September 2013

UK contractors are set to benefit as the UK job market ends on a high this year, research has found, but the rest of the world is generally more uncertain.

According to Manpower’s latest Employment Outlook, the end of this year will see the UK jobs market posting its best final quarter performance since 2007, before the financial crisis hit. With an Outlook of +6 per cent - the balance of firms looking to hire as opposed to making cuts to their headcount - it looks as though employment is set to rise in the last three months of the year.

In particular, contractors in financial and business services are likely to see the most marked improvement, with the sector reporting an outlook of +16 per cent. Going into next year, Manpower says that this trend is likely to continue as the housing market picks up and the financial services industry adapts to a new regulatory landscape. From April next year, anyone attempting to sell a mortgage will need to hold a relevant qualification - a change for which lenders are already preparing, and which is likely to affect recruitment patterns in the months to come.

But Jim Hick, UK managing director of ManpowerGroup Solutions, points out that in many ways the biggest driver of job growth in the finance sector is still the drive to fix previous mistakes. In this context, taking on extra staff to process payment protection insurance claims is likely to be the biggest hiring area. Even so, changes to banking administration to meet new regulations may require the attention of specialist talent.

Interestingly, despite the fact that London and the south-east continue to form the hub of UK business, growth there is relatively small, with an outlook of just +3 per cent in the capital and +7 per cent in the surrounding region. In contrast, it looks as though the rest of the country is catching up - the north-west reported its highest outlook for six years at +14 per cent, while the north-east was not far behind on +10 per cent. In fact, the only regions reporting any decline were Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and the Humber, which each posted a drop of three per cent.

Mr Hick says that the survey shows 2013 has been “a game changing year for the UK jobs market in a number of key sectors.” However, the same cannot be said of the rest of the world. Of the 42 countries surveyed in the poll just 29 planned to increase hiring overall, down from 32 in the last survey - and just 14, or a third, showed quarter-on-quarter improvement.

For contractors looking to work overseas, it could be that better opportunities are found further afield. Emerging markets led the way in positivity, with India topping the list followed by Taiwan, Panama, Singapore and Brazil. At the same time, the US outlook rose to its most positive level since Q2 2008, capping four years of solid improvement. But hiring expectations are at their weakest in Europe, where slow recovery in the eurozone is taking its toll.

By Victoria McDonnell

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