Outlook for jobs in Scotland surges to highest since 2014

Scottish employers are more confident about taking on staff in the months ahead than at any time for more than two years, according to a major survey published today.

The Manpower report highlighted rising demand for permanent and temporary roles. Picture: John Devlin

The bullish outlook also found Scottish firms were more optimistic than those in the UK as a whole about employment prospects for the first quarter of 2017.

But the findings in the ManpowerGroup employment outlook survey have also led to concerns over skills shortages amid warnings over the risks posed by potential restrictions on overseas candidates in the wake of the Brexit vote.

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The survey, the findings of which are used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the UK government, asked whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.

The latest survey of more than 2,000 employers found that Scotland’s net employment outlook has risen by a robust 7 per cent since the previous quarter to +8 per cent, its highest level in more than two years and one point ahead of the national average.

Amanda White, operations manager at Manpower, said: “We’re seeing a notable increase in demand for permanent and temporary roles across professional services, engineering companies and the tech sector. This represents a tremendous opportunity for contractors across a range of trades.”

In the Scottish market, the Manpower report found that employers in Edinburgh and Grangemouth are particularly optimistic about hiring. But it found little evidence of hiring activity in Aberdeen due to the continuing impact of the oil and gas slump.

The report will be seen as a cause for optimism after a number of studies published at the beginning of the week pointed to a clouded horizon for the economy.

The survey also found that candidates in many sectors are in high demand, a finding echoed by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, which has warned that skills shortages will be a growing issue at a time when there are already concerns about restrictions on EU candidates. More than half of all the jobs created by UK employers this year went to EU workers.

Chief executive Kevin Green said: “Talent shortages will be exacerbated if the government imposes restrictions on people coming to the UK from abroad. This might result in businesses considering options such as offshoring or relocation abroad; this is a risk we cannot afford.”

Mark Cahill, ManpowerGroup’s UK managing director, said some employers may be looking to “bring in talent while they can before any curbs to freedom of movement across the EU come into effect”.

All 12 UK regions reported positive outlooks for the first quarter of 2017, with only two – Wales and the north-west of England – reporting a decline in optimism.