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East of England employers now the most optimistic in the UK, Manpower survey reveals

PUBLISHED: 11:40 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:36 12 September 2017

Manpower's latest quarterly survey shows a rebound in confidence among employers in the East of England.
Picture: Clifford Hicks

Manpower's latest quarterly survey shows a rebound in confidence among employers in the East of England. Picture: Clifford Hicks

Employment prospects in the East of England have rebounded strongly despite the continuing economic uncertainty over Brexit, according to a new report.

The lastest Employment Outlook Survey by recruitment group Manpower, which tracks hiring intentions across the country, shows an index reading of plus 11 for the East – up five on the previous quarter and the highest among all the UK nations and regions.

However, firms in the East are starting to feel the impact of Brexit, the report adds, with some vacancies remaining unfilled as workers from other European Union countries head home amid doubts over their immigration status once the UK leaves.

Simon Edwards, operations director for Manpower UK, said: “After a slight dip in confidence last quarter, it is great to see the East regain its status as being the most confident about hiring in the UK.”

There had been “steady job creation” in the region in recent months, with stronger growth in temporary jobs than in permanent positions.

“Alongside this, we have also seen more individuals looking to leave full-time management positions and take up flexible roles with fewer responsibilities and a better work life balance,” said Mr Edwards.

“However, cracks are starting to show as the region starts to feel the effects of Brexit,” he added. “With EU nationals still uncertain about their future status in the UK, we have observed that more European workers are leaving the UK. This is already leaving many opportunities in the manufacturing industry unfilled.”

The latest index reading means that the East of England has overtaken the South East, where the outlook remained unchanged at plus 10. In London, however, confidence among employers has halved to plus four since the last quarter.

Across the UK as a whole, the index reading has increased by one over the past three months to plus six, helped by the biggest increase in hiring intentions among public sector employers since 2015.

James Hick, ManpowerGroup Solutions managing director, said: “This is the first time in over a year that public sector hiring plans have been in positive territory.

“June’s general election outcome was seen in part as a rejection of austerity, and it looks like the public sector is powering on, as hiring ramps up.

“At the beginning of the year there were 86,000 vacancies in the NHS; the Government recently announced that it will train an additional 1,500 doctors a year and create 20,000 new mental health posts.

“However, with the health service so heavily dependent on EU nationals, these hiring targets are going to be extremely difficult to meet. And that’s just the NHS; there are tens of thousands of vacancies in other government departments.”

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