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UK – Agency labour to see recruitment freeze

20 September 2012

Employers in the UK are less confident in using agency workers in the next three months as employer confidence remained flat for the third month in a row, the latest JobsOutlook report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has found.

More bosses indicated they plan to make no changes to their workforce numbers over the short and medium term.

In August, the majority (61%) of those surveyed expected to freeze their use of agency staff in the next three months. Only a quarter think hiring levels will increase while one in ten forecasted a decline.  

When looking further into the future, a fifth of employers think they will increase their use of agency workers in the next 12 months with the majority (66%) again expecting things to remain the same.

“We know employer confidence has been fragile all year and there’s little evidence yet of that picking up significantly,” said REC’s Director of Research, Roger Tweedy.

“On the other hand, we know that many employers are poised to hire when confidence returns and there are signs that the outlook for temporary staffing could be improving. This month we’re looking at a period of stability rather than cuts in worker numbers, which is still in line with predictions of a slow, stop-start recovery.”

Sectors that are likely to benefit from high demand for both temporary workers in the next 12 months include the accounting & financial industry.

But the pattern of demand across sectors shifted in the month due to the summer season coming to an end. Employers now expect to see weaker demand in manufacturing, but also for engineering, industrial and technology roles.

Employers were asked what impact the recession had on their flexible workforce. One in five were now “more open” to flexible work practices than before the recession, with one in six saying they would make more use of flexible working in the coming year.

“Although the majority of employees predicted no change in their use of flexible work practices there is an indication that the recession has prompted a certain number of companies to rethink traditional work patterns and explore more flexible options,” said Mr Tweedy.

Other findings showed that recruitment agencies have scored well in the survey as satisfaction levels amongst employers using agency services were altogether high (94%).

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