Scottish independence: Firms ‘hang fire on hiring’

EMPLOYERS are reticent about hiring new staff amid uncertainty over whether or not Scotland will remain part of the UK, a report has claimed.

A report has suggested firms are more hesitant to take on new staff amid uncertainty over independence. Picture: Craig Stephen
A report has suggested firms are more hesitant to take on new staff amid uncertainty over independence. Picture: Craig Stephen

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey found that job prospects north of the Border fell to just +3 per cent for the fourth quarter of the year.

That figure is down by six percentage points from the previous quarter, when employers’ hiring intentions indicated that recruitment would not be affected by any uncertainty over Scotland’s future.

“Levels of confidence in the Scottish jobs market have certainly taken a tumble as we edge closer to the referendum after a very strong showing last quarter, with hiring intentions hitting a seven-year high,” said Amanda White, operations manager at Manpower UK. “Although this could be due to the short-term nature of some of the summer jobs last quarter, such as the hiring around the Commonwealth Games, the latest Outlook suggests employers are hesitant to take on staff while there is a big question mark hanging over Scotland’s future. This wobble has become evident as we get closer to the big day.”

She added: “However, it is not all doom and gloom, and Scotland’s Outlook is still in positive territory. Where we are seeing growth, it tends to be through expansion by companies already based here, rather than companies moving into the country. Again, the uncertainty over the vote could be having an impact here due to a reluctance of companies to commit to relocating to Scotland and taking on employees here before the outcome of the referendum.”

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She added that customer service roles in Scotland, particularly call centre positions in the financial services industry, had seen strong growth, while there had also been job creation in the engineering sector.

The Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,102 UK employers. It asks whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.

The UK’s National Employment Outlook of +6 per cent, down from the third quarter of 2014 when it was +8 per cent, shows that employers are scaling back their recruitment plans in the fourth quarter of 2014. The UK jobs market is cooling down following an unprecedented boom so far in 2014, when job creation peaked at its highest level since records began in 1971, raising questions about whether this level of growth is sustainable.

James Hick, managing director of ManpowerGroup Solutions, said pay was rising in certain sectors, but “remained constrained” in other areas.

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“While the pace of jobs growth has slowed, we are actually seeing the emergence of an hourglass jobs economy, with an abundance of demand at the top and bottom, while the middle remains squeezed,” he said. “At the top of the hourglass we are seeing huge demand for skilled IT, finance and engineering candidates.”