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Employers expecting a ‘tough year’ in 2012

Employers in Northern Ireland are still more pessimistic about hiring additional staff than any other region in the UK , according to a new survey by recruitment firm Manpower.

Northern Ireland’s Employment Outlook has risen slightly, from -9 to -6, but still remains the most negative region in the UK, according to the report.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,100 UK employers. It asks whether they intend to hire additional workers in the coming economic quarter. It is the most comprehensive, forward-looking employment survey of its kind and is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the UK government.

Although Northern Ireland has reported a three-point improvement in its Employment Outlook compared to the previous quarter, the national picture is less positive as hiring expectations have slipped to its lowest level since the final quarter of 2009.

The national Seasonally Adjusted Net Employment Outlook of 0% indicates that the jobs market is now flat-lining, compared to the marginally positive Net Employment Outlook of +1% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Of the sectors that are creating jobs across the country however, Utilities is the most positive, with employers in the Water, Gas and Electricity industries reporting hiring intentions of +13, a rise of 2 points on the previous quarter. This sector has proved particularly resilient, as the only sector demonstrating a positive Outlook in every quarter throughout the downturn. The Manufacturing sector also shows signs of optimism reporting a hiring intention score of +5.

“2012 is shaping up to be a tough year in the jobs market in Northern Ireland, reflecting the weakening economy and restrained public sector. We hear stories about companies hoarding cash and not investing.

“In the same way, we see a number of business sectors, battening down the hatches, holding onto existing levels of staff and not hiring with any great enthusiasm. Employers have now adopted a wait-and-see approach to hiring; the wider economic environment is weighing heavily on their minds,” said Manpower Operations Manager for Northern Ireland, Amanda White.

“Manpower is working actively with all our clients in Northern Ireland to satisfy their demands for skilled staff,” continues White, “and despite the overall negative Outlook our advice to job seekers is the same as elsewhere: there are still jobs available but a flexible approach to finding work is |essential.

“The type of jobs being created in Northern Ireland is changing and so must people’s expectations. Employers continue to look for skilled and motivated candidates who show a real desire and determination to work. People who are willing to learn new skills are the ones who will succeed in this challenging environment. Those with a ‘refuse to lose’ attitude will find work.”

The Outlook for Northern Irelands reflects a new East-West divide emerging with a vertical line running straight down from the North of England to the South, dividing those regions with positive hiring intentions and those with negative expectations for the next quarter.

Although Wales joins Northern Ireland in recording a small quarter-on-quarter improvement, it is also still firmly rooted in negative territory at -3. Scotland reports a neutral Outlook in line with the overall national picture.

Belfast Telegraph