Positive outlook on jobs with firms set to recruit

Katja Hall, the CBIs deputy director generalKatja Hall, the CBIs deputy director general
Katja Hall, the CBIs deputy director general
Jobs growth is on the cards for the new year with half of British businesses planning to boost their headcounts and Scottish firms the most upbeat, a new report today indicates.

The survey of hundreds of UK companies by business group the CBI and consultancy Accenture suggests that permanent jobs will outstrip temporary work in 2015 as the economy continues to recover. However, skills gaps and concerns about new regulations damaging job creation have emerged.

Jobs growth is expected in every region of the UK, with Scotland leading the way, while employment prospects for young people have improved.

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The study of firms, employing a collective 1.25 million workers, also noted that pay is expected to rise in 2015, although at a “cautious” rate. Recent figures showed that average annualised wage growth of 1.6 per cent was outpacing consumer inflation of just 1 per cent.

Katja Hall, the CBI’s deputy director general, said: “Businesses are planning to create jobs in every region of the UK next year as the recovery continues, and more and more of those jobs will be permanent.

“The outlook for young people is also looking brighter as firms look to boost their graduate in-take and expand apprenticeships.”

But she added: “It’s a concern that the UK’s growing skills gap is now seen as the number one workforce threat to the long-term health of its economy. Companies and the government need to work together to find ways to develop skills within the workforce and help employees move into higher skilled and better paid jobs.

“Those in regular work through the year saw wages rise … and this trend will continue in 2015. Overall, for those in regular work, wage increases have broadly kept pace with inflation, although those with more broken employment histories have seen little respite.”

Olly Benzecry, managing director of Accenture, said: “The positive outlook on jobs growth revealed in this survey is a welcome sign of the UK’s economic recovery.

“However we must make sure we have workers with the skills required to drive the UK’s competitiveness, and this requires a comprehensive approach to skills development.”

According to the latest employment trends survey, 95 per cent of businesses see the UK’s flexible labour market as 
either vital or important to the health of the economy. On no other single issue was there such a near unanimous response.

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It highlights a belief that this flexible labour market enables firms to respond rapidly to growth opportunities (82 per cent) and cope with fluctuating demand (81 per cent).

The report comes as a separate study today reveals that confidence within the Scottish construction industry has hit a new high as 2014 draws to a close.

But the Scottish Building Federation’s (SBF) quarterly construction monitor also raises the issue of “critical” skills shortages in a number of key trades and managerial positions.

SBF managing director Vaughan Hart said: “Given the growing skills shortages the industry is now facing, now is the time to review funding and to explore what additional support can be provided to boost training and recruitment.”


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