International survey finds SA employment market growing stronger

22 October 2008 Antal International

A new survey of hiring trends covering businesses in 14 countries around the world has uncovered a generally positive picture of the employment market for managers and professionals despite the effects of the `credit crunch' and higher energy, fuel and food prices. With the high percentage of companies recruiting in South Africa expected to grow and the low level of firing expected to decrease, the jobs market appears to be booming.

The `Global Snapshot' from the international recruitment firm, Antal, asked over 1, 500 major companies in both western and eastern Europe, Africa, India and China whether they were currently hiring at professional and managerial level. It then asked whether they planned to do so in the coming quarter and also whether they were currently letting staff go or were planning to do so in the next three months.

The rapid development of South African business centres such as Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth has created a lively jobs market for managers and professionals, with 84% of companies currently hiring. "The local education system seems as yet unable to satisfy this high level of demand though, resulting in a high number of expatriates working here" says Alan Russell, MD of Antal International - Cape Town. Egypt is seeing a similarly positive picture with 86% of companies recruiting.

In Germany 57% of companies were hiring now and 64% expected to do so in the next quarter, while in Italy over 70% were currently recruiting and expected to do so in the coming three months. In Spain, however, the picture was less positive. Although 63% of Spanish businesses questioned were currently hiring, the deteriorating economy and a slowing of growth in GDP seem set to bite into the managerial/professional employment market next quarter with the hiring figure dropping to 50%.

In the UK the survey helped to give credence to the perception that a downturn in economic activity is feeding into the demand for managerial and professional staff - only 31% of employers were recruiting at the moment. However employers do appear relatively optimistic about the future and are consequently expecting to ramp up their hiring plans as the year progresses - 48% expected to hire next quarter. Whilst the construction and property sectors and certain parts of the financial services industry are suffering a real crisis of confidence, organisations in other areas such as telecoms and technology are generally positive about hiring.

In Eastern Europe the hiring market appears to be an extremely positive one. In Poland 93% of businesses were actively hiring at managerial and professional level, in Bulgaria, 89% and in Hungary 74%.

In India hiring levels are particularly high - as much as 100% in the building material sector, 95% in real estate and 82% in FMCG. Only the banking sector had reduced its demand for staff - only 30% of financial institutions questioned were recruiting now although 60% expected to next quarter. The situation was similar in China. 90% of IT companies and 96% of engineering businesses were currently recruiting. Whilst the jobs market for managers and professionals in China is booming it is also clear that, at least for the moment, the workplace is no environment for the faint-hearted or uncommitted - many companies are shedding almost as many employees as they take on.

"Despite the doom and gloom of major political, banking and commercial figures in the US and the UK and a glut of credit crunch stories in domestic and international media, this survey does suggest that the jobs market for managers and professionals, at least outside the USA, is still in good health," says Russell. "In fact demand in some regions is far exceeding supply. In such an environment it may be complacency about the on-going `war for talent' that ends up causing the most damage to organisations around the world, not any global economic downturn."

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