Belfast Telegraph

Recruitment survey finds more job losses are likely

By Margaret Canning

More Northern Ireland bosses are intending to cut the size of their workforce over the next three months than take new people on, a recruitment survey released today has found.

The Manpower employment outlook survey showed that job cuts are forecast for April to June 2010, with a seasonally adjusted net employment outlook of -5%. The outlook is calculated by subtracting those employers who plan to cut staffing levels from those who plan to hire staff.

Its forecast is considerably bleaker than the UK average, which for the second quarter in a row showed UK employers reporting positive intentions.

Greg Hollis, operations manager at Manpower, said: “Northern Ireland has not been immune to the recession and these results demonstrate that the region’s employers will continue to remain cautious.

“The construction sector has been particularly hard hit locally, but as a business we are seeing some demand re-emerge for back office administrative roles within the utilities and finance and business services sectors — providing much needed hope for jobseekers within the region.

“Competition for jobs across the board continues to be high. Jobseekers should therefore continue to invest in training which will develop their skill sets and boost their appeal to potential employers. Temporary work too should not be overlooked; it is a great place to start and often provides a useful springboard into permanent employment.”

The report comes as the Assembly Social Development Committe warned that 1,200 construction jobs could be put at risk if proposals to slash £40m from the Department of Social Development’s maintenance budget for Housing Executive stock are approved.

Manpower’s findings also tally with those of consultancy Mercer, which last week said a quarter of large companies in Northern Ireland expected to cut their workforce again this year and over half planned salary freezes.

But Mercer said the outlook had improved on 2009, when 67% of large companies in the province were considering |making cuts.

Most recent official figures showed the number of people joining dole queues in the province jumped by 1,400 in January to 56,100 and economists predict unemployment will keep rising in the first half of 2010.

A report by the Ulster Bank yesterday bore more unwelcome economic news, as it said business activity in Northern Ireland fell sharply last month.

But a forecast from the Northern Bank last week made a brighter prediction and said the economy would grow by 1.3% in 2010 — though it warned the recovery would be accompanied by job losses into the middle of 2010, and contractions in some sectors such as finance.

Manpower said that elsewhere in the UK, East Anglian employers reported the most most positive hiring intentions, thanks to an increase in visitor numbers and significant investment in the retail sector.

Employers in the West Midlands were the least optimistic, with a heavy reliance on industries that have been significantly affected in the downturn, such as automotive manufacturing, and cuts in local council budgets.

Belfast Telegraph