Confidence in hiring on the rise: Jobs Outlook 2024

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We always keep a close eye on hiring trends—and we have just spotted an encouraging one. The latest JobsOutlook report from the REC shows that business confidence in hiring is bouncing back after a challenging couple of years.

According to the report, employers’ perceptions of the UK economy, while still negative on balance, have improved to the most positive level since early 2022. Importantly, this is translating into increased confidence in making hiring and investment decisions. The net balance for this measure surged by twelve points in the last quarter, moving back into positive territory.

In terms of actual hiring intentions, the short-term outlook for permanent hires improved, with notably strong sentiment in London and the Midlands. However, some caution remains, with the pace of growth slowing month-on-month through the quarter. Medium-term permanent hiring plans held steadier and strengthened compared to the prior 3 months.

At Four Talent, we are seeing more of our clients, especially small and mid-sized businesses, feeling increasingly confident about making permanent hires, particularly at the junior level. Several have shared with us that they are waiting to see the outcome of the upcoming general election and are hopeful this will also provide a boost to hiring at more senior levels.

Louise, Four Talent Director adds:

“Confidence for businesses to hire into more senior positions can take longer. The impact of more strategic roles is not felt in the same way in the short-term because, if they have been led well previously, teams will know what and how to deliver for their customers which keeps the wheels turning.

So, how long is too long to leave a senior vacancy unfilled? Some would say course-correcting after a gap in strategic leadership is a far harder task, takes longer, and arguably requires additional skill sets so why wait? The ultimate cost could be far more than the saved salary.”

The short-term outlook for temporary/contract hiring is more mixed, with London standing out as the most positive region. Overall, though, the medium-term forecast for temporary recruitment has weakened over the last quarter. This may reflect some uncertainty as businesses wait for more political and economic stability before committing to longer-term hires.

Another key insight from the JobsOutlook report is around skills shortages and immigration. Over 40% of firms are looking internationally to address skills gaps. However, the UK’s immigration system remains a challenge. Employers cited quicker visa processing, lower salary thresholds, and allowing more overseas hires to bring dependents as key priorities to help them access vital international talent.

At Four Talent, we know that skills shortages remain a major concern for many sectors. Building a strong domestic talent pipeline needs to be a key focus, alongside an immigration system that is responsive to economic needs. We will be working closely with our clients to help them navigate these talent challenges in the months ahead.

Lucy, Four Talent Director shares:

“Building a great team starts with a well-defined hiring process. But before you dive in, it is always worth consulting with a hiring expert. We can help you assess your needs, identify the right talent, and ensure a smooth and efficient process.

At Four Talent, we are passionate about helping businesses find the perfect people to fuel their growth. We love talking to people about their growth plans and can provide solid advice to ensure businesses are prepared and ready for hiring.”

The road to recovery is never a straight line, but it is highly encouraging to see confidence strengthen as we head towards the second half of 2024. By staying on top of the latest hiring trends, we can ensure our clients are well-positioned to capitalise on growth opportunities. To discuss your hiring needs, contact the Four Talent team today.