Public sector job outlook darkening, employer survey finds

8 Sep 14
Public sector job prospects have fallen following a period of buoyancy, according to Manpower’s employment outlook survey.

The survey, based on responses from more than 2,000 UK employers, asks about hiring intentions and planned headcount reductions for the forthcoming quarter.

Its latest findings, relating to the job prospects fourth quarter of this year, showed a net employment outlook of -5%. This means that a larger proposition of employers are expecting to cut staff numbers than take on new workers, and is the sector’s first shift into negative territory after six quarters of job creation.

Commenting on the findings, Nick Heckscher, Manpower’s group sector director for government, said: ‘Hiring intentions in the public sector overall are down, as the local authority workforce continues to contract and parts of the sector start to shift towards a commissioning-style model, with less direct employment.

‘This structural change in some parts of government is exacerbating the talent mismatch challenge in the sector, as employers look for new skills that the sector hasn’t traditionally required, such as project management and procurement.

‘We have seen increased demands for contract and interim staff, which may be a direct response to the erosion of mid-senior management roles among the permanent workforce due to austerity measures.’

But he added there were some ‘bright spots’ in public sector recruitment, with demand for frontline staff still strong, particularly in health and social care.

Nationally, the survey recorded an employment outlook of +6%, down from +8% in Q3. This suggested that the job market was beginning to cool, following ‘unprecedented growth’ this year.


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