Tuesday 11 June 2019 12:45 am

Private sector hiring intention hits seven-year low amid Brexit impasse

Hiring intentions among UK companies slumped to their lowest level since 2012 in the second quarter of the year, a new survey has shown, as Brexit uncertainty weighed on employers’ minds.

Read more: UK wages rise as employment stays at record high

Plans for hiring among firms in the finance and business services sector saw the weakest performance in 12 months, staffing firm Manpower Group’s quarterly employment outlook survey today revealed.

The manufacturing, warehouse transport and storage sub-sectors also dragged on the private sector employment outlook, Manpower said.

The survey data comes a day after the UK’s statistics body showed Britain’s economy contracted in April due to a Brexit-induced planned car plant shutdown and the unwinding of stockpiling.

While employment has held up remarkably well to hit record highs, a number of signs including the closure of various UK factories and plants, such as the Ford works in Bridgend, have suggested the tide may be about to turn.

Meanwhile, Brexit was also exerting pressure on public sector hiring intentions, which Manpower scored at plus six per cent, well above the private sector outlook of three per cent.

Manpower said the scores represented “the biggest public sector lead over the private sector in terms of hiring intentions since Manpower Group began tracking the data eight years ago”.

Mark Cahill, Manpower Group’s UK managing director, said “the fact that there are a very large portion of EU workers that are leaving the UK which are employed in the NHS” was increasing hiring intentions in the sector.

“There is an intention by government to hire more people, but the level of skills just aren’t available,” he said.

Manpower called on the government to support free movement of people after Britain leaves the EU.

Read more: UK hiring intentions decline for second month in row as Brexit looms

Cahill said the government should allow “people even post-Brexit to come to the UK with skills that we don’t have here today so that we can get the jobs done”.