The report, released on the day of the Chancellor’s first Spring Statement, ManpowerGroup reveals employers have recorded their most optimistic jobs forecast in over a year, with a national Outlook of +6%. This unexpected lift comes amid sluggish macro-economic data and continuing uncertainty about how we will leave the EU, despite the Brexit clock ticking. But there are worrying signs that surface-level optimism is masking a more uncertain reality, so ManpowerGroup joined calls for the Chancellor to commit to long-term policies around skills which will give UK businesses the clarity they need to invest for the future.
The ManpowerGroup Employment 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. It is the most comprehensive, forward-looking employment survey of its kind and is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the UK Government.
James Hick, Managing Director for ManpowerGroup Enterprise: “Against a backdrop of turmoil in the global markets and continuing national uncertainty, the rise in the national Outlook, to its strongest level in over a year, has confounded expectations. However, this surprise jump in confidence could actually be a mirage.”
Hick continues: “Take the best-performing sector, Hospitality, which is up seven points to +16%, a huge fourteen-point rise since this time last year. On the surface, this might look like a sector that is firing on all cylinders, but this is at odds with the almost daily diet of news about struggles in the sector, such as Jamie’s Italian, which is closing a third of its sites and Byron Burger, which is closing up to 20 branches as part of a rescue plan. Our view on the data is that it shows how desperate employers are to fill vacancies in an industry that is heavily dependent on immigration, with up to 24%1 of all staff coming from the EU. Given that the sector employs around 3 million people, losing that proportion of the workforce would leave a shortfall of three-quarters of a million people. In recent weeks we’ve seen more reports that the number of EU workers arriving in the UK is falling – particularly those from eastern Europe – and employers are racing to make up the shortfall.”
The importance of ensuring that hospitality industry has the skills it needs to thrive is recognised across the sector. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, the trade association for the hospitality industry, comments: “Generating £130bn in revenue each year, the hospitality sector is a key driver of the UK economy. Due to our rapid growth and strong trajectory, a high proportion of our skilled teams come from outside the UK. In order to keep the sector growing we need a new ministerial champion and sector deal that encourages increased, sustainable investment in skills and world-class careers.”