Jobs optimism in Scotland falls to lowest in UK

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Scottish employers plan to cut jobs in the second quarter of this year, according to a new survey by workforce experts ManpowerGroup.

The company has noted that hiring intentions in Scotland have fallen 11 points to -3 per cent, their lowest level since 2012 and far below the UK national average of +5 per cent.

The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,119 UK employers and asks whether they intend to hire additional workers or reduce their workforces in the coming quarter.

It is the most comprehensiveemployment survey of its kind and is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the UK government.

Jason Greaves, operations director, said that with the prospect of Article 50 looming and uncertainty over Scotland’s post-Brexit position, employers are “battening down the hatches” and cutting costs.

He said: “Aberdeen’s jobs market is particularly slow due to the ongoing oil slump. In Edinburgh, we’re seeing how political uncertainty is also affecting the availability of candidates, with many reluctant to take risks and move to new firms. As a result, employers are struggling to fill their vacancies.

“Nonetheless, there is still some cause for optimism. We are seeing large projects in engineering and manufacturing opening up new opportunities, from project managers to administrative professionals. Amazon is opening a new call centre in Edinburgh, which is set to create around 250 jobs.

“Both job seekers and employers can improve their position in the jobs market by working on their networks. We’re advising candidates to ensure their social media profiles are up to date to make sure they’re ready to make the most of any opportunities that arise.”

Nationally, private sector hiring has dropped to its weakest level since the first quarter of 2014. Employers in six of the nine sectors surveyed reported a falling Outlook. The overall Net Employment Outlook, which includes both public and private sector employers, has dropped two points to +5 per cent.

All but five regions report falling Outlooks for the coming three months compared to the previous quarter. Behind Scotland, the next biggest faller is the other strong Remain area, London, down five points to +3 per cent. The West Midlands, the South West and Yorkshire & the Humber all fell three points to +5 per cent while the North East and South East are both down one point to +5 per cent and +4 per cent respectively.

Northern Ireland and the North West are the only risers, both up three points to +7 per cent and +6 per cent respectively. Three regions report unchanged Outlooks: the East (+9%) is still the most optimistic region ahead of the East Midlands (+8 per cent), while Wales (+2 per cent) reports the second weakest Outlook in the UK.