Yet “hundreds of thousands of vacancies” exist for people with the right skills or who are willing to retrain, according to Manpower, which conducts the widely-regarded survey.
“Employers continue to look for skilled and motivated candidates who show a real desire and determination to work,” said Manpower’s Mark Cahill.
“People who are willing to learn new skills are the ones who will succeed in this challenging environment. Those with a ‘refuse-to-lose’ attitude will find work.”
The survey revealed a surprising east-west divide in the UK (excluding Scotland), with eastern regions registering positive employment outlooks, compared to negative outlooks in their neighbours to the west.
“The south east is plus four per cent and London plus five per cent despite a wave of recent redundancies in the financial sector,” the report said. Yet in the financial and business sector, employers have “gone from being the most optimistic at the start of 2011 to being among the most pessimistic,” the survey found.
Employers are most optimistic in the north east, despite high levels of unemployment.
Nationally the outlook has flat-lined, with eight in 10 employers set to freeze staff levels in the next quarter.