In case you hadn’t noticed, the World Economic Forum in Davos is underway again. Economists, politicians (but not Frau Merkel apparently) and the assorted liggers and hangers-on (actors and similar economic experts) have headed for Switzerland. The bad news, as revealed by the Telegraph’s cartoon banker Alex Masterley, is that the Russians have less money these days so there is less booze going about, but I’m sure those attending can afford the occasional bottle of Bolly (more likely Krug).
To coincide with the conference, PwC has revealed the results of a global survey of top execs and the British press have seized upon the welcome news that 84% of UK executives are upbeat about prospects in 2016.
Crucially, from our perspective as recruiters, 67% of UK execs expect to employ more people this year, which is a substantial increase on the figure from 2015 which was 49%. This puts the UK well ahead of any other European country in job creation and third only to India and Mexico in the world.
Hidden in amongst the euphoria though is a slightly less impressive statistic. That figure of 84%, while very good, was actually a slight decrease in confidence compared to the previous year. Moreover, the international economic situation is worsening, and PwC acknowledges this, noting that only 30% of execs in their survey believe the global economy will improve, compared to 41% in 2015. Worse still, the numbers expecting an absolute decline grew to 23% from 18% in 2014 (and, significantly, from none in 2013). Depressing news about impending disaster (or at least another downturn) is quite easy to find without looking too hard.
Let’s focus on the good news though. PwC’s findings mirror what we find at Be-IT. Almost every hour of every day at Be-IT we speak to clients and candidates, asking them how they feel the market is and what their career prospects/job availability will be. Overall, the majority, like the CEOs in the PwC survey, exhibit a degree of optimism. This is further borne out by the very recent release of the latest ONS figures: as the CIPD reported, “demand for labour is still high, as seen by record numbers of unfilled vacancies, and it’s positive to see the supply is still there to fill these jobs.”
There’s more good news on the home front: in Scotland specifically (as reported by City AM/Business Reporter), hourly wages have, for the very first time, risen to be higher than those in England. We expect that employment and wages will play a big part in this year’s Holyrood election for the Scottish government and a small part in the forthcoming EU referendum. It would be a very pleasant (but unlikely) change if we had a proper debate based on socio-economic and business facts rather than the usual slagging match between opposing politicians. We can but dream but in the meantime there are lots of jobs coming and, the global economy permitting, that’s likely to be the case throughout 2016.
Gareth Biggerstaff, MD, Be-IT Resourcing