26 Sep, 2011

Demand for agency workers remains robust

With the Agency Workers Regulations now just days away from implementation, employers remain committed to the use of temporary staff over the next three months, according to the REC’s latest JobsOutlook published today.

A total of 22 per cent of employers expect to increase the number of temps within their workforce over the next three months while another 61 per cent – just under two-thirds – plan to keep their agency workforce at the same level, four points up overall on last month. This is a further indication of the value employers put on building flexibility into their workforces.

The longer term outlook is also positive with the number of businesses planning to maintain or increase their use of temporary staff over the next year rising three points on the previous month. Overall 86 per cent of employers are planning to maintain or increase their number of temporary staff over the next 12 months.

The short and longer term forecasts for permanent staff is less optimistic with a sharp fallback in the number of employers – 53 per cent compared to 67 per cent last month– looking to take on more staff over the next three months.  Forty per cent – down nine points on the previous month, forecasting more permanent staff hires in the next twelve months.

Again, the issue of the impact of public sector cuts on private sector jobs looms large. There has been a slight drop in the number of public sector employers – 60 per cent this month compared to 66 per cent in last month’s  survey – saying that the impact on them would be either quite serious or very serious.

However, there was a one point rise from 20 per cent to 21 per cent in the numbers of private sector employers saying there would be either a quite serious or very serious impact on their businesses as a result.

Commenting on the current data, Roger Tweedy, the REC’s Director of Research said: “The September figures show a complex picture emerging among employers and their hiring intentions. This month has seen a marked dip in both business and consumer confidence has put the brakes on the jobs market.

“Yet despite the imminent introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations, employers are still looking to build flexibility into their workforces while an overall air of uncertainty prevails in the jobs market.

“With economic predictions remaining downbeat, many employers are deferring any commitment to determining the future shape of their permanent workforces until a clearer picture emerges.

JobsOutlook is based on a monthly survey of employers with results based on a sample of 600 on a three month rolling basis. To subscribe to JobsOutlook, contact Tracey McManus, tracey.mcmanus@rec.uk.com

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