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Europe – Uncertainty “tempers appetite for hiring”, Manpower says

13 March 2012

Global employment prospects have been improving as hiring activity in the majority of the world’s labour markets is expected to remain relatively stable or improve from three months ago. But Spain and Greece show the weakest hiring plans in Europe, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey which forecasts hiring activities across 41 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific.

Perhaps unsurprisingly Germany “continues to be the bright spot in Europe” while finance job prospects have weakened considerably across the region, when compared to the same time last year.

“Our research highlights incremental improvements in select geographies, although the improvements still have a large dose of hesitancy and skepticism built in,” said Jeffrey A. Joerres, Chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup.

“No doubt, we’re encouraged by the increased stability the numbers reveal this quarter, but uncertainty – caused by the disconnection between events at the macro level and the micro level in Europe – continues to temper the appetite for hiring,” Mr Joerres said.

The survey found that worldwide, employer hiring expectations are strongest in India, Brazil, Taiwan, Peru and Turkey, and weakest in Greece, Spain and the Czech Republic as a greater percentage of employers in these three countries are planning to trim payrolls rather than hire staff. Italy, Hungary and Ireland also report weak job prospects for the coming months while elsewhere in Europe hiring plans are stronger in Romania, Sweden and Norway.

“The bright spot in Europe continues to be a resilient German labor market that is attracting skilled workers from weaker markets in the region; yet, shortages for in-demand skills such as healthcare professionals, engineers and software developers persist. Despite the relatively positive 2Q forecast in the German Finance and Business Services sector, the Outlook has weakened from 12 months ago, and highlights a broader weakening trend across the region as large finance companies look to restructure and reduce costs,” said Mr Joerres.

In Germany, 11% of employers are planning to increase their workforce between April and June 2012, compared to 10% of employers for the first quarter.

In the UK, the job market is heading in the right direction. “Although it’s too early to say that a full-blown recovery is upon us, it does feel like we’re turning a corner when it comes to the jobs market. Businesses that were battening down the hatches in the last quarter appear to be considering taking on staff. We’ve noticed much more flexibility among employers, particularly in the market for permanent hiring. The early signs of optimism are reinforced by other market signals of late, which point us away from a double dip recession in the direction of growth – albeit at a slow pace,” said Manpower UK Managing Director, Mark Cahill.

However, in the Netherlands – one of the biggest staffing markets in Europe –employers appear to have mixed hiring expectations. “The current Net Employment Outlook is the weakest in 2 years. But despite the subdued nature of the current forecast, things are not entirely grim. The data indicate employers remain hesitant to invest in new hires. However, more than 9 out of 10 Dutch employers surveyed indicate they plan to keep their current workforces intact for the coming 3 months. Given the string of redundancies that have recently made it to the headlines, one may expect a more gloomy overall picture. But data on the recession by Statistics also indicate that Dutch investments are still growing, albeit at a rather slow pace,” said Haiko van der Pol, Marketing and Communications Director at Manpower Netherlands.

How are things looking in France, the second biggest staffing market in Europe? There opportunities for jobseekers are said to remain “modest” as employers expect a slight improvement in hiring prospects for the second quarter of 2012. Employers in seven of 10 sectors surveyed in France report a positive outlook, particularly in public & social, restaurants & hotels, and wholesale & retail trade sectors. The least optimistic employers can be found in manufacturing and mining & quarrying.

“Meanwhile, in Greece the troubles continue but fewer employers are telling us they will be shedding staff in the quarter ahead. Only time will tell whether recent EU backing will bring the added stability needed to inject some confidence into the country and region,” added Mr Joerres.

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Lars 13/03/2012 1:49 pm

Bailed out Allied Irish Banks (AIB) will lay off 2,500 workers - one in six of its workforce - to save 170 million euro in a year. The massive lay-offs, the biggest in Irish banking, will be finalized in April with workers facing drastically reduced pay outs under strict Government rules. Yet another devastating day for those thousands of staff who were not responsible for the state the bank is in today. The continuing loss of jobs in the financial sector shows no signs of abating. The slow economy will keep employers from hiring more than they need.


morris 13/03/2012 1:42 pm

The Foreclosure Fiasco is far from over in the US as foreclosures have risen in the 1st quarter. Job growth is mostly in the service sectors offering meager minimum wages and mainly part-time work. With well over 11 million homeowners currently underwater on their homes , there were 3.5 million people who have already lost their homes to foreclosure over the past four years.


Phillip 13/03/2012 1:31 pm

The banks continue laying off thousands of employees. Today, the Economy was hit by yet another jobs roller-coaster ride after two taxpayer-supported banks made "brutal" cuts of more than 1,700 jobs. The bad news from the finance sector, with Lloyds Banking Group saying it will cut 1,300 jobs and transfer 300 roles to India, while Royal Bank of Scotland is axing 464 posts. Another "black day" for the finance industry. Not a good time to get cheery yet for any quick economic recovery in the near future.Its not happening yet.


Piet 13/03/2012 1:17 pm

Greece's economic mess is not resolved yet and can still cause major repercussions in the future. Many other EU countries are struggling with the economic downturn and slower economy. The economic problems that are ever present in Spain is also much larger than what Greece had, so if there is a small risk of a default or a bailout then it will have much bigger implications for the euro zone than Greece had. The slowing trend in the EU's economy has affected every euro zone country with continued layoffs and slower economic growth. Higher taxes, rents, higher gas and food prices will keep many consumers from buying items they do not necessarily need ( big ticket items ). Looks like a long unpredictable 2nd and 3rd quarter waiting to see what positive or negative outcomes they might bring.


Gerald 13/03/2012 12:55 pm

'Time Will Tell' although things do not look so good in real life as they some times look on paper. Numbers are deceiving and many things can drastically effect the outcome of any economic progress: for instance any natural disaster like floods, earthquakes and and conflicts of trade agreements among EU countries. The best thing to remember is 'not to count your chickens until they are hatched.'


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