Employers in Romania and Slovenia reported the most optimistic hiring outlooks in the EMEA region, with both countries having a 19% net employment outlook for Q4, ManpowerGroup’s latest quarterly Employment Outlook Survey showed.
Their optimistic outlooks come against a background of anticipated workforce increases across the 44 countries and territories worldwide included in the survey, with the exception of Switzerland where employers projected a 2% decline. Globally, confidence is strongest in Japan (21% net employment increase expected), Taiwan (21%), the US (19%), Romania, Slovenia and Hungary (18%).
"We continue to see optimism from employers around the world in spite of tariff disputes, proposed new populist legislation and the uncertainty of a hard or soft Brexit," said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO, in a statement.
Despite the generally positive outlook, however, “there is little evidence of notable surges in hiring activity,” the report said. “Overall employer confidence is little changed from prior quarters and most employers remain resilient, appearing content to engage in modest levels of hiring activity against a backdrop of challenges associated with a realignment of global trading partners and ongoing tariff negotiations.”
The report was based on interviews with more than 59,000 employers, who were asked: “How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of December 2018 as compared to the current quarter?”
Compared to the previous three months, hiring plans strengthened in 22 of the 44 countries for Q4, weakened in 14 and were unchanged in eight. In annual terms, hiring outlooks improved in 23 countries, weakened in 13 and were unchanged in seven.
Prising also noted changes in the types of employees sought after by businesses. “In the Digital Age we're seeing organisations across all sectors undergo significant transformation. From Manufacturing to Services, roles are emerging that require new skills, creating mismatches between what is needed and what is available in an increasingly tight labour market,” he commented.
This has been seen in several countries in Central Europe, as well as increasingly in Southeast Europe’s largest economy Romania, as labour markets tighten dramatically amid the ongoing strong economic growth.
Regarding Romania, hiring perspectives are positive across all eight of the country’s regions and eight out of ten industry sectors, the survey said.
From a regional perspective, the most optimistic are employers in the west region, with an outlook of +17%, seven percentage points (pp) stronger compared with the previous quarter and 14 pp stronger than in 3Q17.
In terms of industries, hiring intentions are mixed in Romania. Employers in the manufacturing sector are the most optimistic, with an improvement of two pp over the second quarter, but the index declined by two percentage points when compared to last year. The most significant annual decline is reported by employers in mining and quarrying.
27% of Romanian employers forecast an increase in wages in the July-September period, while only 8% anticipate a decrease.
Slovenian employers are cautiously optimistic about hiring intentions for the third quarter of 2018 and is the weakest forecast in two years. Hiring prospects decline by three pp both q/q and y/y.
Employment is forecast to grow in all 10 industry sectors and all four regions during 3Q18. Compared with 2Q18, employers report weaker hiring plans in five sectors and three regions.
The survey showed that 11% of employers anticipate an increase in staffing levels, 2% forecast a decrease and 85% expect no change.
The strongest labour market is anticipated in the transport, storage and communication sector, followed by the manufacturing sector.
Bulgarian employers expect increased demand for labour across the manufacturing, finance, insurance, real estate & business services and agriculture, hunting, forestry & fishing sectors during the third quarter of the year.
11% of employers expect staffing levels to grow, only 1% forecast expect a decline and 82% anticipate no changes.
Hiring plans for the last quarter of the year in Croatia are 17pp weaker when compared to the previous quarter, the ManpowerGroup report showed. Croatian unemployment has been on a downward trend recently thanks to the seasonal employment in the tourism industry. However, once the tourism season comes to an end, the number of job seekers will increase.
The net employment outlook stands at 9% compared to 26% in July-September. The survey showed that payrolls are still expected to grow during the last three months of the year, but at a considerably slower pace than in the previous two quarters.
When the eight industry sector outlooks are compared, the manufacturing sector employers report the strongest hiring plans for the fourth quarter of 2018. Standing at +26%, the outlook for the sector declines by 2pp when compared with the previous quarter.
The restaurants & hotels sector employers report the weakest sector hiring prospects for the last quarter of the year, with an outlook of -12%. The outlook sinks by a steep margin of 53pp when compared with the third quarter of 2018.
Meanwhile, the weakest net employment outlook for the region was in Czechia, albeit at a still reasonably robust 6%. ManpowerGroup told local journalists that over a third of Czech companies (36%) had trouble finding enough or qualified workers in 2017. The situation has been getting worse since 2013, the Czech business daily E15 said on September 11.
The number of companies facing problems caused by the tight labour market will increase in 2018 as the unemployment rate dropped from over 5% in January and February 2017 to 3.1% in July and August 2018.
Amongst the jobs with the most vacancies are craftsmen like electricians, welders and mechanics. The second most sought after employees are are lorry, van, building machinery and public transport drivers. The third group are engineers, especially machine, electro, chemical or civilian engineers.
“These are occupations, which moved to be more qualified in last years. In the chart, there are no unskilled professions,” said ManpowerGroup Czech Republic general director Jaroslava Rezlerova.
The tightened labour market is caused by the extremely positive economic situation, but also by changing structure of labour market. “Companies’ requirements on labour force are changing way quicker than a qualified structure of the population,” Rezlerova said.