Employers in north becoming increasingly cautious about hiring staff

Hiring intentions are being impacted in Northern Ireland by the uncertainty around Brexit, according to a survey by workplace specialists Manpower
Gary McDonald Business Editor

EMPLOYERS in Northern Ireland are becoming increasing cautious about recruiting new staff, with confidence falling into negative territory - and bottom of the UK league - for the first time in more than a year.

The findings in a survey by of 2,100 UK workplaces by the Manpower Group come against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, lower-than-expected economic growth and falling consumer confidence, all of which are impacting on investment and decision-making.

“After over a year of hovering in positive territory, it's disappointing to report that hiring intentions in Northern Ireland have fallen into negative territory this quarter," said Manpower UK director Chris Gray.

"Given the bigger picture – a gloomy national outlook and ongoing uncertainty about the post-Brexit picture – it's no wonder this is impacting on hiring intentions.

“Although nationally manufacturing has been a bright spot, in Northern Ireland hiring intentions in the sector have been weak, with some big manufacturing companies such as Michelin, JTI and Wrightbus closing down or cutting back."

He added: “Driving and logistics roles have always been a big part of the Northern Ireland jobs market, and although we are still seeing a steady stream of hiring in this sector, our clients are telling us that they need a lot more clarity about the future before they can make any real business growth, investment or hiring decisions.”

In comparison to the negative outlook locally, the national picture equals the most downbeat hiring prospects since 2012. The outlook has been dragged down by a fall in hiring confidence in the finance and business services sector, which has plummeted to a nine-year low of minus-1 per cent.

James Hick, managing director for ManpowerGroup Enterprise, says: “This is the first quarter since 2009 – when we were in the depths of the financial crisis – that we've seen business and financial services employers record a negative outlook.

"As the UK is a global centre for financial and professional services, if the sector's shrinking, it's not good news for the country. While financial services only employ 3.5 per cent of workers, it generates about 11 per cent of government tax receipts.”

He added: “The business services sector is also hugely important to the UK's economy, accounting for £186 billion (11 per cent) of the UK's total goods and services produced and employing 4.6 million people – 13 per cent of the UK's total workforce – in a range of businesses comprising everything from outsourcing companies and estate agents to law firms and accountants.”

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