While UK businesses remain concerned about the medium- and longer-term effects of June’s Brexit vote, hirers intend to go on growing their permanent and temporary/contracting workforces, a new survey has found.

The poll, which was jointly produced by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the recruitment consultancy Pertemps, revealed that permanent and temporary/contracting jobs are on course to continue growing next year, with the former outstripping the latter.

The survey was conducted between August and October and sampled the hiring intentions of 353 respondents in the UK who, between them, employ 1.2 million people. Forty-one per cent of these companies intend to increase their permanent and temporary/contracting headcounts in 2017.

The findings also revealed that this year saw a slowdown in recruitment expectations by comparison with the same time last year, with employment falling for the first time in 12 months. Even so, the proportion of businesses reporting that they intend to hire more staff next year, minus those that anticipate reducing their headcounts, stood at +28 per cent.

This positive outlook for future recruitment, paradoxically, arises in the midst of pressing concerns about the commercial and economic impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Well over half of the respondents (58 per cent) said that they feared losing access to skilled migrants in the post-Brexit world, a development that would deprive them of much-needed talent and potentially threaten their competitiveness.

Over three-quarters of those polled (76 per cent) believed that having a diverse and inclusive workforce is a high priority and crucial to the success of their organisations. Employers benefit, they said, from a richer repertoire of skills, attracting new recruits and retaining existing staff.

Remarking on the findings, the CBI’s Deputy-Director General, Josh Hardie, said that in 2017, the strengths of the UK labour market looks set to improve on the existing record levels of employment, which reflect more people being in work than ever.

He added: “Businesses are 100% committed to making the best of Brexit. However, this year’s survey does show a greater sense of concern about the UK’s long-term attractiveness as a place to create jobs. Getting our industrial strategy right and understanding what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be, will help ensure that this worry does not negatively impact the future performance of the labour market.”

It appears that the UK’s famed entrepreneurial spirit remains undaunted in uncertain times, despite worries about skills shortages. Permanent candidates, Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals can look forward to new opportunities in 2017.

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