The outlook for the Northern Ireland job market is looking more rosy, according to a survey of business people here.
The Barclays Job Creation Survey found nearly half of respondents plan to create new jobs in the next 12 months, most of while will be in the middle and junior management levels.
It also found only one in five people surveyed believe there is a shortfall in private sector job growth in 2013, a marked improvement on the 44% who thought the same this time last year.
"Our survey has highlighted an improving level of confidence in the Northern Ireland companies regarding private sector job growth," Adrian Doran, head of Corporate Banking, Barclays Northern Ireland, said.
"This is a positive sign, and hopefully signals the start of a wider sense of optimism returning to the business community."
The survey also found that the vast majority (81%) of Northern Ireland companies believe that the Government's efforts to remove barriers to job creation are having no impact on their business, although this is a slight improvement on last year's figure of 87%.
Meanwhile, in relation to employment prospects of ex-public sector workers, Northern Ireland businesses were relatively positive, with 38% of businesses 'very' or 'quite' interested in taking on ex-public sector workers.