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The latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s JobsOutlook report has revealed a mixed bag – business confidence is at a record low; however short-term hiring intentions are up.

Employers’ confidence in the UK economy has dropped to the joint-lowest level since mid-2016 and is only the second time that confidence in the economy has dropped to this level since REC records began three years ago.

However, the survey also shows that firms have ambitious plans for recruitment – for example, hiring intentions for temporary/contract agency workers remained strong at net: + 10.

And, at the same time, feedback from the REC’s survey of recruiters shows that many organisations are scaling back or even cancelling their hiring plans due to their lack of confidence and the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit.

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Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, commented, “These figures show the damage that political indecision is causing to business confidence. Companies are ready to hire, invest and grow – but the lack of a clear path ahead means that more and more are thinking twice. Whether it is Brexit or the spill over from Trump’s trade war, politicians need to prioritise jobs and growth over ideology.

“It is in uncertain times like these that the value the recruitment industry brings is most visible. Businesses rely on the expert advice recruiters offer, while candidates get help to navigate a more uncertain market with confidence. Temporary work is an important part of this – keeping people working and the economy going in uncertain times.

“Temps are a key part of the labour market, and we must make sure government policy protects them. The REC is urging government to rethink its approach to IR35 changes, and to ensure new employment laws work for all forms of employment – not just those on a permanent, fixed-hours contract.”

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