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More job cuts ahead as employers fear the worst

More Northern Ireland employers are intending to cut staff than hire new people in the coming year, it was revealed today.

The survey of employment by recruitment firm Manpower found Northern Ireland employers were intending to axe jobs for the second quarter in a row, with a seasonally adjusted net employment outlook of -2%. The figure was obtained by subtracting the number of those intending to cut jobs from the number of those intending to hire.

It is the second consecutive quarter that Northern Ireland employers have reported negative intentions — though the percentage of people planning to reduce staff levels had fallen slightly since the previous quarter (1%) and had slumped substantially since the middle of the recession (10%).

However, it’s not all bad news. Greg Hollis, operations manager at Manpower, said: “Although employers in Northern Ireland continue to act with caution, there is some good news for local jobseekers.

“As a business, we’re seeing demand for both temporary and permanent sales personnel — particularly within the media industry locally — as companies look to increase market share and boost profits.

“There is also significant demand for technical support staff within the energy sector.”

Mr Hollis added: “When hiring, employers are increasingly focused on the added value and new skill sets that prospective employees can offer.

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“For jobseekers, this means the value of training — coupled with industry knowledge and experience — should not be underestimated.

“Those who are flexible in their job search, considering work experience, temporary roles or spending time upskilling in the short term will reap longer-term advantages.”

Elsewhere in the UK, employers in the south east reported the most positive hiring intentions at +9%, with job creation across finance and utilities helping to boost employers’ hiring confidence.

But West Midlands employers were the least optimistic at -5%, although that still marked an improvement on the quarter before when intentions were rated at -9%.

Manpower linked the positive outlook to the manufacturing sector.

The Manpower survey results are based on detailed responses from 2,100 employers across the UK.

Last week, Ulster Bank’s quarterly economic review gave a gloomy view of the local jobs market.

Richard Ramsey, the bank’s chief economist, said an economic strategy for the province needed to reflect the “harsh reality” of growing job losses.

“There may have to be a re-balancing away from the current emphasis on productivity over employment,” he added.

Meanwhile, an economic report by business advisers Ernst & Young claims the recession has been “disproportionately severe” on young |people in Ireland.

It says that out of a jobless rise of nearly 160,000 people in the Republic between the start of 2008 and the end of 2009, 23% were aged under 25.

Out of 28,000 job losses in Northern Ireland in the same period, 32% were under 25.