Employment upswing set to continue until election

THE SURGE in UK employment is set to continue, with nearly half a million more people expected to enter the workforce in the next 12 months according to a bullish forecast released this morning.

Research by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Grant Thornton suggests that more than 450,000 new jobs in the private sector will be created in the year up to the general election, adding to the jump in employment through 2013.

The groups’ business confidence monitor for the second quarter showed the strongest conditions since the survey began in 2003. Confidence has improved in each of the last six months, with a steady increase building to the current record high.

A second report on business conditions released today by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggests that small manufacturers are among the most positive about the economy currently, with the most positive sentiment on record. The CBI’s survey has been running for over a quarter of century.

Output expectations for the next three months are also at their highest in nearly two decades. The survey showed a net balance of 16 per cent of small manufacturers said they were hiring in the three months to April, further signalling that the unemployment rate is set to continue its decline this year.

But some firms are having trouble locating skilled employees: the CBI found that 20 per cent of construction companies say they are facing a greater challenge in finding skilled managers than a year ago, even though the sector is still hollowed out from its pre-crisis peak.

The survey by ICAEW and Grant Thornton also found that skills shortages were a growing issue.

“There is a real concern amongst business owners that they will not be able to recruit employees with the right skills. This is a real threat to the sustainability of the recovery,” added ICAEW chief exec Michael Izza.