UK jobs outlook weakest in Europe as retail and hospitality slump


Britain’s jobs outlook is the weakest in Europe according to a survey by recruitment firm Manpower.

The global poll, which included 1,300 UK employers, found the picture had improved slightly since the summer but remained behind that on the continent.

In London, the outlook for the first quarter of 2021 is at an all-time low, the survey found.

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Retailers hope for seasonal rush

The UK results showed improvements in sectors such as finance and construction but falls in retail and hospitality.

Mark Cahill, managing director of Manpower Group UK, said the upturns in some areas gave “reasons to be cheerful as we head into 2021”.

“However, despite this positive trajectory, the UK remains the least optimistic in Europe, with continued uncertainty over Brexit and the effects of a second COVID-19 wave still looming large.”

Mr Cahill said the survey showed only 49% of employers expect their hiring to return to pre-pandemic levels within the next 12 months.

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The UK reading for the jobs outlook stood at -6%, up six percentage points compared to six months ago but the bottom of a 24 countries in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region.

The figure is calculated by subtracting those employers who plan to reduce staffing levels from those who plan to hire staff.

Greece, Germany, Turkey and Ireland were the most optimistic across the EMEA countries with the UK, Switzerland, Austria and Spain, the least.

The findings were part of a global survey of 37,000 employers in 43 countries.

It said a slower pace of hiring found in the UK, France and Switzerland “reflects the varying degrees of economic lockdowns, as regional measures in the countries have been imposed since September”.

In the UK, retail and hospitality – battered by the pandemic – were the gloomiest on record.

“The further decline of Britain’s high streets is deeply concerning,” said Mr Cahill.

“Shops, restaurants, and bars have remained mostly shut across the country, and the young people who make up a large proportion of workers in this sector have often borne the brunt.”

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COVID-19: The economic virus

The report cited the struggles of chains such as Pret A Manger and Caffe Nero as demand dries up.

It comes after the collapses of Debenhams and Topshop-to-Burton group Arcadia last week left 25,000 jobs at risk, adding to the crisis engulfing the high street.

The reopening of non-essential stores after the end of lockdown last week saw some shoppers return but footfall was still well below levels seen in December last year.

Latest official figures showed UK redundancies rose to a record 314,000 in the three months to September while unemployment climbed to its highest rate in nearly four years.

A Sky News tracker of publicly-announced job cuts during the coronavirus crisis shows retail and hospitality have been the worst hit sectors so far.

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