Northern Ireland employers 'cautious' about hiring, survey shows

HGV drivers in Northern Ireland have seen significant increases to their pay over the past year according to Manpower, and can now expect to be paid around £9 an hour due to the ongoing shortage of qualified drivers

POLITICAL uncertainty surrounding the general election has driven employers in Northern Ireland to become more cautious on recruitment, according to a report.

A survey of more than 2,100 employers by Manpower Group found a majority in the UK voiced cautious optimism about hiring.

But while the best outlook for jobs was in regions including Yorkshire and Humberside, the South East and West Midlands - especially in manufacturing, restaurants and hotels, utilities and agriculture - the situation in Northern Ireland was more pessimistic.

“The political uncertainty we've seen across the UK in the past few months is even more pronounced in Northern Ireland due to questions about what happens about the border after Brexit," says Amanda White, head of specialist markets at Manpower.

"As a result, we're witnessing an especially cautious market here, most notably within the public sector, and the supply chains that feed into the sector.

"Often during times of caution, we see a switch from permanent to temporary hiring, but right now even temporary opportunities remain static on the whole.”

She added: “But despite the fall in optimism this quarter, we are still in positive territory and there are some sectors that continue to demonstrate hiring optimism.

"The region's £1 billion hospitality sector remains buoyant, and we have not seen any slowdown in the ongoing need for restaurant and hotel workers.

"Some commentators have expressed concerns about the long term health of the hospitality sector if a border was reinstated between Northern Ireland and the Republic, but so far employers in the sector remain confident.

"With a number of new hotels currently under construction in Belfast alone, Northern Ireland's thriving hospitality sector is also having a knock-on effect on the region's construction industry, which has even surpassed the usual upturn in construction work at this time of year.”

She said that although hiring is quiet, many employers were seeking advice around pay and salary benchmarking as skills shortages are causing difficulties filling the reduced number roles they do have.

"We are seeing upwards pressure on pay in a number of areas, but none more so than driving, where HGV drivers have seen significant increases to their pay rates over the past year, up by between 75p and £1 per hour.

"Class 1 and 2 drivers can now expect to be paid in the region of £9 per hour due to the ongoing shortage of qualified drivers.”

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