Hays expects jobs slowdown

City A.M. Reporter
BRITISH recruiter Hays expects to deliver modest domestic growth next year, saying fragile consumer confidence would hit the private sector market with public sector hiring set to remain flat.

Hays, which reported 18 per cent private sector growth in the third quarter, down from 27 per cent in its first half, expects a slowing trend to continue as fragile consumer confidence kept small and medium-sized businesses from re-hiring and made candidates wary of changing jobs.

“We will see a harder private sector market, and I think that is going to continue,” finance director Paul Venables said on Tuesday, adding that the mainly bank-driven, London-based recovery had moved into a “grind-it-out” period.

In April, Hays reported a 16 per cent rise in its third-quarter net fees after strong performances in Asia Pacific and Europe where it remains focused on expansion. That helped offset a 37 per cent drop in British public sector work in the period.

Hays, the largest provider of supply teachers in Britain, said a removal of uncertainty created by looming public sector job cuts would give the economy a much-needed boost. In the meantime, it would likely remain flat.

“If there was a magic wand where the public sector job cuts had actually occurred, and all of the problems over pensions et cetera were agreed, those two things would give the biggest stimulus to the economy at the moment because they would fuel confidence in the remainder of the workforce,” he said.

Shares in the FTSE 250 company, whose London-listed rivals include Michael Page and Robert Walters, were up narrowly in afternoon trading yesterday.