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Chancellor Must Support Business Growth – REC

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A quarter (25 per cent) of employers believe that new funds to support regional economic growth should be top of the list in today’s Autumn Statement, according to a poll of 200 employers included in the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s (REC) JobsOutlook survey.

The second-highest response, cited by 18 per cent of employers, was for more incentives to help start-ups and SMEs employ new workers.

Calls for the chancellor to provide support for regional economic growth and SMEs comes as the REC’s JobsOutlook survey for the last rolling quarter suggests that employer confidence has stabilised. Just over one quarter (27 per cent) of respondents felt that domestic economic conditions are improving, up two per cent from last month’s report – but below the 48 per cent reported in June.

This month’s JobsOutlook, which contains responses from 602 employers surveyed August–October, also reveals:

  • A quarter (25 per cent) of employers intend to hire more permanent staff in the medium term.
  • Forty-four per cent of employers anticipate skills shortages for permanent roles, with engineering & technology, construction, and health & social care highlighted as key areas of concern.
  • A third (34 per cent) of employers have no spare capacity to take on more work without hiring more staff.

REC Chief Executive Kevin Green says:

“Business confidence is still way below levels seen before the referendum. Employers are calling for interventions to drive forward projects such as the Northern Powerhouse and to bolster the economy. Now is the time for a clear message from government that UK businesses can expect support to ensure they can weather the continued uncertainty of the EU negotiations.

“The jobs market has performed well so far since the referendum, and the data around hiring intentions is encouraging. However, employers are not a homogeneous group and the government needs to meet a variety of needs to ensure the continued health of the jobs market.

“The government needs to outline how it will address skills shortages in its industrial strategy and ensure that the supply of people to fill vacancies meets the demand from business. We will continue to need workers from overseas in a range of sectors, from engineering to healthcare, and must ensure immigration policies reflect immediate labour market needs.”

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