“Cautiously optimistic” is the overall view of businesses in Northern Ireland regarding prospects for the jobs market, says the most recent independent jobs survey commissioned by recruitment website NIJobfinder.co.uk.
One hundred large and small companies from across Northern Ireland and representing a wide range of sectors including manufacturing, service and retail were surveyed to gauge activity and opinions about the job market over the past three months and looking forward to the next three.
Over 50% of those surveyed reported an increase in the number of vacancies available with a marked improvement in confidence as more roles are advertised. Only 9% felt that the situation was still in downturn. Whilst many companies had implemented a redundancy programme or job freezes, the focus was now on right-sizing agendas with sustainable recruitment procedures.
Looking towards the next three months, 42% of companies interviewed anticipated a modest increase in vacancies. Nevertheless, clear notes of caution were sounded especially amongst bigger employers who were experiencing large volumes of applications for jobs and often from over-qualified applicants anxious for employment. Just over 20% of respondents were less optimistic about future trends indicating a decrease in the jobs market.
Overall, businesses gave the impression of a slowly recovering market with 46% describing the jobs environment as “getting better”. Only 3% saw the situation worsening. Suggestions as to what might boost the market included more government investment, easier bank lending and programmes to enable people to diversify their skill sets.