Carmen Watson

Carmen Watson, Managing Director and Chairperson of Pertemps, shares her thoughts on the last 12 months and looks ahead to 2017…

2016 has been an interesting year to say the very least! There’s a changing landscape happening at home and abroad and there’s no doubting that Brexit created a great deal of uncertainty among UK businesses.

However, we work alongside businesses of all shapes and sizes every day of the week and I’m happy to report that, as the year approaches an end, optimism is returning.

Despite the changing landscape, the job market has been in pretty good health - over the last 12 months, the number of people in employment has risen by a further 461,000 with an employment rate now standing at almost 75%. Furthermore, it is great to see that unemployment has fallen to an 11-year low.

You will by now have seen the CBI’s latest Employment Trends Survey which revealed that 41% of respondents anticipate a larger workforce over the coming 12 months while just 13% expect a smaller workforce.

That leaves a positive balance of +28 of businesses expecting to grow the number of employees which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is marvelous news. It is certainly music to the ears of everyone at Pertemps!

UK organisations are increasingly recognising the business benefits of providing flexible workforces. Indeed, nearly all (97%) of respondents see a flexible workforce as essential to a successful labour market.

We are certainly anticipating jobs growth across the country in 2017, particularly in the permanent recruitment field. Job creation will be spread across all sizes of businesses and regions. Personally pleasing for me – as a Midlander myself - is the forecast that the West Midlands will be leading the charge with a balance of +47% of firms anticipating a larger workforce in the coming year

Having said all that, there is no getting away from the skills gap that persists in several industries and sectors. We recognise where the gaps exist and are working alongside clients to find the necessary solutions.

The government will need to do its bit but companies are taking positive steps on their own with 30% expected to create apprenticeship positions and 20% expected to create graduate roles in 2017.

As I said, optimism is high and proof, once more, that no matter what challenges are thrown at businesses in this country, everyone simply rolls up their sleeves and gets on with it. Business as usual then!