The latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has found many employers urgently want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make new funds available to support regional economic growth and provide more incentives to assist startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in hiring new workers.

This month’s survey included an additional pre-autumn statement poll of 200 employers, a quarter of whom believe funding regional economic growth should be the Chancellor’s top priority. Almost a fifth support the idea of additional hiring incentives for startups and SMEs.

The latest JobsOutlook survey itself, which covers August, September and October, suggests employer hiring confidence is stabilising after the Brexit vote. Of the 602 employers polled, 27 per cent believe economic conditions are improving, a two per cent rise on last month’s findings. However, this is well below the 48 per cent recorded in June before the EU referendum took place.

The survey also found that 25 per cent of respondents intend to take on more permanent employees in the medium term. However, 44 per cent expect significant skills shortages for the permanent roles they are looking to fill. The key areas of concern include engineering and technology, health and social care, and construction.

This suggests employers will continue to rely on skilled flexible workers, such as Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals, to gain access to the skills they need to keep them in business. The skills shortage problem raises concerns about future immigration policy, with employers in various sectors needing relatively unimpeded access to trained workers from the EU.

More than a third of respondents to the survey said they lack the capacity to accept new work without taking on more staff.

Commenting on the survey, REC CEO Kevin Green conceded that business confidence is still appreciably lower than the levels attained before the referendum result.

“Employers are calling for interventions to drive forward projects such as the northern powerhouse and to bolster the economy,” he said.

“Now is the time for a clear message from the government that UK businesses can expect support to ensure they can weather the continued uncertainty of the EU negotiations.

“The jobs market has performed well so far since the referendum, and the data around hiring intentions is encouraging. However, employers are not a homogeneous group, and the government needs to meet a variety of needs to ensure the continued health of the jobs market. “

Green urged the government to outline in its industrial strategy how it will deal with skills shortages.

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