Northern Ireland firms not hiring new staff due to Brexit fears
Employers in Northern Ireland are losing the confidence to hire new staff as concerns over Brexit persist, according to a survey.
Foreign language skills were in such short supply that some call centre firms were locating their contact centres for overseas clients in Great Britain.
As Chancellor Philip Hammond prepares to deliver his first spring statement in the House of Commons, recruitment giant Manpower said employers in Northern Ireland were becoming more cautious about hiring.
Manpower's quarterly employment outlook survey - based on responses from over 2,000 employers - showed the measure of confidence had fallen two points to just 2%. Amanda White, head of specialist markets at Manpower, said: "Jobs confidence in Northern Ireland has taken a dip this quarter.
"Brexit is still concerning employers who are unsure what it will mean for their ability to attract talent, and retaining foreign language skills is a top priority. We're already seeing reduced applications from EU workers across the board."
Ms White said the call centre sector in Northern Ireland still needed speakers of European languages. With German and Nordic speakers most in demand, "employers are having to think creatively to attract and retain talent", she said.
"Relocation fees are sometimes on offer and, in the longer term, some employers are looking at reorganising their contact centres so that their foreign language teams are based on the mainland, where it is easier to find these skills, and their English-speaking operations will be in Northern Ireland."
Despite the fall in confidence in Northern Ireland, employers in the UK as a whole were at their most optimistic in over a year.