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Guarded optimism on job prospects

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Over 85 per cent of firms in the UK plan to actively recruit during the second quarter of 2002, a rise of two per cent on last quarter’s report, according to new research published today by Reed, the UK’s leading recruitment specialist (15 April 2002).
Nearly 1,000 organisations across Britain were surveyed for the Reed Recruitment Index with a third recruiting to grow, half recruiting to retain staff numbers, and only nine per cent planning to downsize.

The Reed Recruitment Index shows a slightly more optimistic response from UK organisations compared to their predictions for the previous quarter made at the end of last year. There was a one percentage point increase on those recruiting to grow (up to 33%), a one percentage point increase on those recruiting to replace (up to 53%) and a decrease of one percentage point on those planning to downsize (down to 9%).

Regional Variations
A new survey by Reed shows some cautious optimism on employment varying across the UK. The most bullish businesses are those in the Thames Valley, South West, East Anglia and Northern Ireland, all with over 45 per cent of organisations recruiting to grow. Those businesses expressing the most caution are based in Scotland, the Northwest and interestingly London and the South, all with under 30 per cent planning to expand. This has changed from the previous quarter, when businesses in the South and the Midlands were planning to take on the most staff.

The skills demanded by organisations are changing. Experienced sales staff are now in the most demand, with 18% of the organisations struggling to recruit them, closely followed in secondplace by admin and secretarial staff. Technical and engineering staff, in most demand last quarter, are now in third place. Over 15% also expressed concerns with shortages of Accounting and finance and call centre staff. While demand for IT professionals remains high at 8%, it has halved since this time last year.

James Reed, Chief Executive of Reed comments: “According to our latest research, businesses throughout the UK are cautiously optimistic. After a difficult period, it seems the pessimists may have been proved wrong, and organisations are beginning to set their sights on expansion”.


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