The strong hiring prospects for the third quarter of 2012 reported in nine of the ten measured industry sectors, augured well for job seekers, the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey showed.
In the wholesale and retail trade sector employers recorded a net employment outlook of +12%, while the mining and quarrying sector reported a cautiously optimistic outlook of +8%.
The outlook for the finance, insurance, real estate and business services sector was at +7% and in the transport, storage and communication sector, as well as the construction sector, employer outlook was encouraging with outlooks of +6%.
In general, 11% of South African employers forecast an increase in staffing levels, 7% anticipated a decrease and 81% expected no change, resulting in a net employment outlook of +4%.
However, the survey, which was released on Wednesday, indicated that once the data was adjusted to allow for seasonal variation, the outlook would stand at +6%. This meant that the number of employers planning to take on more staff exceeded the percentage that planned to reduce staffing levels.
The third-quarter outlook was up from -2% in the second quarter, the weakest forecast since the survey began in 2006, and from -1% in the first quarter.
On a provincial scale, employers in four of five regions expected to increase staffing levels in the third quarter.
The most optimistic forecast was in the Eastern Cape, where the net employment outlook stood at a cautiously optimistic +8%. Outlooks of +7% were reported in Gauteng and the Western Cape, in the Free State the outlook was +4%, while employers in KwaZulu-Natal reported a disappointing outlook of -4%.
Quarter-on-quarter, hiring prospects strengthened in all five regions. Employers in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape reported outlook improvements of +8% and the Western Cape outlook improved by 4 percentage points.
Compared with the corresponding quarter last year, hiring prospects strengthened in three of the five regions. The outlook for Eastern Cape improved by10 percentage points, and a 5 percentage point increase was recorded in the Western Cape.
Meanwhile, weaker hiring plans were evident in two regions, including KwaZulu-Natal, where the outlook declined by 4 percentage points and marking a 1% fall year-on-year.
Manpower Group South Africa MD Lyndy van den Barselaar stated: “There is no doubt that the ongoing concerns and uncertainty in Europe continue to weigh on the minds of employers in the global labour market. However, investment into developing countries and the African continent have seen growth outstripping richer nations in some sectors, leading to increased positivity.
“Further, positive financial indications such as the report by the credit agency Moody’s Investor Services, indicating that the exposure that sub-Saharan banks have to the euro area crisis is limited, contribute to an encouraging outlook for the third quarter.”
She added that although hampered by weaker global demand, growth could gain momentum through 2012, and increase trade and create new positions. Talk of protecting certain South African industries from cheaper foreign imports was also fostering a healthy environment for growth and job creation in these industries.
“Membership in the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) group is also continuing to contribute to a positive outlook for the country as other Brics members show ongoing robust growth. Overall though, the figures look encouraging after the poor performance of the first two quarters of 2012, and may indicate a positive employment trend for the rest of the year,” Van den Barselaar enthused.
Meanwhile, despite high unemployment, South Africa seemed to be matching up talent with demand on a better scale than many other countries. Manpower’s recent Talent Shortage Survey for 2012 saw respondents peg South African businesses' difficulty in finding talent at 10% compared to the global average of 34%.
Globally, the Manpower Group’s research showed varying degrees of positive hiring activity in 33 of 41 countries and territories with the strongest third-quarter forecasts coming from employers in India, Taiwan, Brazil, Turkey and Singapore.
Compared to the second quarter, hiring activity was expected to be relatively stable or improve in 32 labour markets and weaken in 16. Compared to a year ago, job prospects weakened in 26 countries and territories, while it improved or remained relatively stable in 19.
Employer hiring expectations are weakest in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Hungary.