The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey suggests that UK employers are cooling their hiring plans for the final quarter of 2014 after the biggest hiring spree since records began.

The seasonally adjusted survey of the hiring intentions of 2,102 employers shows that the net employment outlook fell to +6% for Q4 2014, a drop of two points from the +8% recorded for Q3.

James Hick, MD of ManpowerGroup Solutions, pointed out that the UK jobs market had seen an “unprecedented boom” in hiring during 2014, with the number of new jobs and contracts created hitting a peak not seen since records began in 1971; however, questions are now arising about whether this can be sustained. Mr Hicks continued: “The fourth quarter’s outlook suggests it can’t, with a two point fall in hiring intentions – the sharpest dip we’ve seen in three years. While the UK economy is in robust health, there are issues that may be making employers more cautious. The eurozone’s recovery is stalling and the UK faces a period of political uncertainty with the Scottish independence referendum, a general election and a potential vote on EU membership all on the horizon.”

The net outlook contains considerable regional variations, however, with several areas ‒ including London and the Midlands ‒ well above the overall figure; therefore, the picture is far from gloomy for skilled Umbrella Company employees and other independent professionals. Demand in Q4 for skills associated with core contractor disciplines ‒ IT, finance and engineering ‒ is “huge”, Mr Hicks noted, and Manpower’s professional sourcing division is placing a record number of people to meet skills shortages in each of these areas.

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