Belfast Telegraph

Confidence returning to jobs market

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland has seen the biggest uptake of all UK regions in online demand for new workers as business confidence stabilises, according to a new survey today.

Sales offered most job opportunities, with engineering, consulting and IT professionals in relatively high demand, according to the Monster Employment Index for the UK.

Six out of nine UK regions saw an upturn in job availability with online hiring in Northern Ireland up by 4%, the fourth monthly rise in a row.

Hugo Sellert, director of economic research for Monster, said business confidence had steadied in Northern Ireland in recent months, albeit at low levels.

“Overall, people in Northern Ireland are becoming less pessimistic about their economic prospects. Many companies have indeed scaled back hiring because of the uncertainty about economic conditions.

“However, as the worst of the recession appears to be behind us, companies are becoming less hesitant about making strategic investments, for which competent staff is required.

“Indeed, job losses, or redundancies, appear to have tapered off, and the recent uptick in regional job offerings indicate labour market conditions have started to slowly improve to the benefit of the rising ranks of unemployed.

“Also, Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate remains lower than for the UK as a whole — even if a high rate of ‘economically inactive’ may have a skewing effect — which contributes positively to the demand for help-wanted advertising.”

But the story was bleaker from a long-term view. “From an annual perspective, however, Northern Ireland has seen a slightly steeper decline (-39%) than the UK as a whole (-37%).”

Economist John Simpson said he believed the survey took an optimistic view.

“While this survey is on the optimistic side, it would appear to confirm that there are the beginnings of more confidence in the business community.

“Things were bad last week with the announcement of job losses but we are not getting the same high number of redundancy announcements which we were getting around six months ago.”

According to the latest Ulster Bank PMI Report, Northern Ireland was the only region within the UK not to experience an upturn in business activity last month.

But last week’s Northern Bank Consumer Index claimed consumer confidence had crept up as people anticipated a more stable labour market.

Belfast Telegraph