UK jobs market ‘skating on thin ice’, survey suggests

The UK jobs market is ‘skating on thin ice’ according to a new report from recruitment agency Manpower.

Its latest survey shows that the EU referendum result has done little to dampen employers immediate hiring plans but also offers early warning signs for future job prospects.

Cracks in the ice are appearing, Manpower said, with six out of nine sectors reporting a decline in jobs optimism.

Based on responses from 2,102 UK employers in the weeks following the referendum, the national seasonally adjusted Net Employment Outlook remained at +5% for the final three months of the year, defying predictions that the vote for the UK to leave the European Union would trigger an immediate slump in recruitment plans.

However, Manpower warned that this could be the ?calm before the storm?. The company highlighted four-point falls in employer optimism in three key industries: business and finance services, construction and utilities. At the same time, manufacturing fell two points despite the weak pound and is now at its lowest level in three years.

Mark Cahill, managing director of Manpower Group UK, commented: Many finance operations in the City of London depend on the EU banking passport and the fall in hiring intentions could reflect pessimism over the future of this agreement. We’ve already seen London’s competitors like Paris and Frankfurt making overtures to the City’s big finance firms. In addition, we’ve seen an 800% rise in applications for finance positions in Dublin since the Brexit vote.

Manpower?s survey also revealed that public sector hiring sentiment has fallen to its weakest level in more than four years and Cahill warned that this could have a damaging effect on frontline services?.

But there was some good news, as the fall in sterling since the referendum has had a positive impact on jobs optimism in the retail, wholesale and hospitality sector.

After the initial shock of Brexit, we’re entering a new phase of prolonged economic uncertainty, Cahill said. The future of freedom of movement across the EU is of particular concern. As UK businesses are reliant on European talent to help fill the skills gap, we urge the government to prioritise maintaining the free movement of people across the EU during its negotiations. This would make sure the UK remains competitive, while sending a powerful message to skilled jobseekers Britain remains open for business.