East of England tops table for jobs prospects, survey shows

The East of England looks set for a jobs boost, according to a ManpowerGroup survey. Picture:

The East of England looks set for a jobs boost, according to a ManpowerGroup survey. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

The East of England looks set for a jobs boost after a survey suggested it was the most confident region for hiring intentions.

But while the region’s employers top the charts for hiring confidence for the second time in less than a year in the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook survey, the general optimism could be a mirage as European Union workers head home, experts warn.

As the chancellor of the exchequer issued his spring statement, jobs prospects looked outwardly rosy among the 2,102 UK employers who responded. Hiring confidence in the east stood at +10% compared to a national average of +6%, the survey, which balances employers’ intentions to expand or cut their workforce in the coming quarter, found.

But Manpower operations director Jason Greaves said while there was growth in demand, the supply of candidates was limited.

“We have found ourselves in the position where employers are coming to us looking for candidates in a diverse range of roles,” he said. “We have seen more and more EU workers leaving the UK, notably from Eastern European countries like Lithuania, which means that we are going to even greater efforts to find suitable candidates. This has shaped our approach. We are headhunting candidates to make sure they understand as much as possible about the company they are applying to, the job and the additional benefits on offer. In this new environment, the right candidate is king.”

Nationally, employers recorded their highest level of jobs optimism in over a year, but there are worrying signs that surface-level optimism is masking a more uncertain reality, Manpower said.

James Hick, managing director at ManpowerGroup Enterprise said the surprise jump in confidence “could actually be a mirage”.

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Hospitality saw a big uplift in hiring intentions, but struggles in the sector, such as at Jamie’s Italian and Byron Burger, suggested a different story, he said. “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,” he said. Bellwether sectors were down - manufacturing (three point fall to +4%), and construction (six point fall to +1%)