Prudent optimism in labour market

“Overall, our labour market is showing prudent optimism,” says Roman Rogers, executive general manager, Hudson New Zealand. The Hudson Report Employment Expectations Survey shows net 22.5% of employers are planning to increase their headcount before the end of the year, up half percentage point compared to the previous quarter.

“While overall sentiment levels still haven’t returned to pre-GFC levels, we’re up 2.7 percentage points on this time last year,” says Rogers. “Additionally, there are solid signs of recovery within our small and medium business community, which constitutes the lifeblood of our economy.”

The survey found nearly third of small businesses are planning to increase their permanent staffing levels during the next quarter, up 9.5 percentage points (pp) from the previous quarter and up 15.1pp year-on-year.

“The buoyancy of small business employers is driving our economic recovery, with boutique, niche organisations adapting well to change and emerging technologies and carving competitive advantages both here and overseas,” Rogers contends.

“Businesses of 20 employees or fewer make up over 95% of our businesses and account for 30% of employees. These small businesses are able to quickly respond to rising consumer confidence so we would expect this uplift in hiring intentions to flow through to medium and large enterprises in the coming months.”

Nationally, the construction/engineering/property and information technology industries continue to propel overall sentiment, says the Hudson Report. As the rebuild of Canterbury begins to gain momentum, more than half of employers in construction/engineering/property intend to increase headcounts over the upcoming quarter, and with large scale reconstruction in the CBD not expected to commence until next year, this figure will remain high, says Rogers.

Hiring intentions in the information technology industry also remain high across the country (up 2.1pp to 51.4%) as many businesses continue to invest in upgrading their technology platforms.

Sentiment in the manufacturing, financial services/insurance and education industries has softened from last quarter but remains strong when compared to the levels seen in the October to December quarter 2010.

The South Island remains the most confident region in terms of hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter, with net 38.6% of employers planning to increase permanent headcount. There is particular growth (up 10.7pp to net 28.4%) expected in contracting and temporary employment as hiring managers in the region adjust to meet immediate and pressing labour requirements and as professionals take up opportunities offered by interesting project work.

“By talking to our clients throughout the country, we know there are good things happening and there is positive feeling about the year ahead,” says Rogers. “Employers, however, continue to be prudent in planning and hiring. Never before has the importance of getting the right person for the right job been felt so keenly.”

In its tenth year of quarterly publication, results for the latest issue of the Hudson Report were gathered through interviews with 1089 employers across New Zealand, conducted by Hudson staff.

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