Headlines: April 15th, 2002

Public administration and health are among the sectors leading the recovery of employment prospects in the UK. The latest quarterly survey by Manpower, a leading recruitment and HR outsourcing company, shows that the balance of public administration employers planning to take on more staff in the period April-June 2002 is 18%. This compares to minus1% last quarter and it represents a growth of 19% points. This is 7 points up on last year. Employment forecasts for public administration have risen steadily from 1998 and the current figures are the highest reported in the last ten years. The sector has now risen to sixth position among the 20 sectors.Health has seen the second strongest rise of all sectors in the period with a 26% rise. This, however, is a reduction on the 30% rise in the same period last year.

The other side to improved employment prospects are recruitment and retention problems and particularly skills shortages. IT is publicized as a prime shortage area but Professor Margaret Cox, Honorary President of the Association of ICT in Education, believes that the problem is more to do with employer attitudes. While the Cabinet Office believes that there are 3000 graduates entering the profession each year, Professor Cox calculates that the number completing IT related degree courses is 180,000. She maintains that there is a pool of unemployed IT graduates because employers insist on 2 years experience before they will recruit them.