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Employer confidence has surpassed pre-pandemic levels and has hit a nine-year high with hiring intentions up for the third quarter of 2021.

The latest Labour Market Outlook survey, compiled by the CIPD, revealed that 69% of the 2,000 employers questioned plan to recruit in the three months to September 2021, up from 64% in the last quarter and 49% this time last year.

As expected, hiring intentions in certain sectors have seen dramatic changes since last year; for example, just 26% of hospitality/arts/entertainment employers were looking to hire last summer compared to 72% this year. In transport and storage, this has increased from 33% to 65%.

Jonathan Boys, labour market economist for the CIPD, commented on the findings, “This is an incredibly strong set of data and paints a very different picture to employer intentions a year ago. Employers are very optimistic, indicating strong recruitment intentions and redundancy expectations appear much lower than originally predicted during the pandemic.”

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Boys added, “Over the last year, employers have been able to flex the workforce to meet demand by using the furlough scheme to rapidly expand and contract staffing levels at minimal cost. This will no longer be a viable strategy as the scheme winds down, so we’ll see recruitment and retention pick up the slack as employers look to plug any gaps in their workforce.

“With difficulty finding labour in some sectors, employers will need to think more long-term about how they meet skills needs. It’s important for organisations to look carefully at their recruitment and retention strategies and consider where they need to develop these, for example by increasing investment in training and reskilling. Retention strategies should be built with boosting job quality in mind, as employers have a huge role to play in improving working lives.”

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