North East leading the way in jobs bounce-back

The North East jobs outlook is ahead of the national average heading into 2014 according to recruitment experts

A person walking past a job centre
A person walking past a job centre

The North East jobs market is powering ahead of London with optimism among employers at an all-time high, according to recruitment experts.

According to Manpower’s Employment Outlook Survey, 7% of employers across the region intend to increase the size of their workforce in the coming economic quarter - standing above the national average of 5%.

This is in stark contrast to previous years, where the percentage of North East employers looking to take on staff was in negative territory.

The survey is based on responses from 2,104 UK employers across nine industry sectors and 12 regions, and asks whether they intend to increase or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming economic 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.

Ross Smith, director of policy at the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) says employers across the region are looking forward to a strong jobs market heading into 2014.

“It is good to see such a positive set of figures for the region,” he said. “We know from our own Quarterly Economic Surveys that members are recruiting and investing in staff training more than at any time since 2007, so it’s not a huge surprise to see estimates pointing towards a more buoyant jobs market.

“We’re fortunate to have some of the best parts of the economy in our region and manufacturing continues to underpin our economic growth. The sector continues to grow at a healthy rate and with the imminent arrival of Hitachi in the new year, I would expect this performance to continue in 2014.”

London was a jobs powerhouse throughout 2013, but hiring intentions have slumped well below the national average during this quarter to -1% and it is the regions making up the shortfall.

For the first time in six years every region of the UK is showing a positive outlook to recruitment.

James Hick, Manpower’s managing director, says regions like the North East are capitalising on increased activity in the manufacturing sector.

He said: “Sunderland is seeing an overall increase across temporary and permanent roles, while in Newcastle the increase in hiring intentions is being driven primarily by temporary roles, with permanent roles still harder to secure. We’re seeing increased activity in the manufacturing sector, where candidates with production and manufacturing skills are being snapped up. While there is also strong demand for engineers, particularly those holding electrical and mechanical qualifications, there is evidence of a skills gap in this area, with employers struggling to fill these roles.”

The NECC echoed Mr Hick’s comments, saying more needs to be done to encourage businesses to invest in their future workforce.

Mr Smith said: The Journal’s Proud to Back Apprenticeships campaign has highlighted potential skills shortage we face if more SME do not engage in the skills agenda. If we are to maximise our potential in this sector, then we need our companies to commit to apprenticeships and ensure our workforce remains fit for purpose for years to come.”

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