Strong hiring trend in South Africa

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Strong hiring trend in South Africa expected to continue into the first quarter of 2008

According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released, employers across all sectors of the South African labor market have optimistic expectations for the first quarter of 2008, although hiring expectations are 4 percentage points weaker than the fourth quarter of 2007.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey was conducted by interviewing a representative sample of more than 750 employers in South Africa. All survey participants were asked, "How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of March 2008 as compared to the current quarter?'

First-quarter hiring expectations for 2008 are strongest in the Mining, Electricity, Gas and Water Supply, and Manufacturing industry sectors. Employers in the Mining industry sector specifically are reporting the strongest hiring expectations, with a Net Employment Outlook of +43%, a 4 percentage point improvement when compared to fourth quarter 2007.

According to the survey, 27% of employers in South Africa expect add employees in the first quarter of 2008. The Outlook figure is derived by taking the percentage of employers anticipating an increase in hiring activity and subtracting from this the percentage of employers who expect to see a decrease in employment at their location in the next quarter.

According to Jan Coetzee, Managing Director of Manpower South Africa, the survey results indicate a very positive market trend that is expected to continue into 2008. "Several sectors, such as the Construction and Finance/Insurance/Real Estate/Business Services sectors, continue to benefit from infrastructure development and the buildup to the 2010 World Cup'.

A considerable decline of 9 percentage points from fourth quarter 2007 hiring expectations is reported in the Public and Social industry sector. The Net Employment Outlook in this sector stands at +21% for the first quarter of 2008. Employers in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry sector (+20%) reported the weakest hiring expectations of all sectors - although the sector’s Outlook represents a 10 percentage point improvement from three months ago.

Regional Optimism

Employers in each of the five regions have reported positive hiring intentions. Employers in the KwaZulu Natal region (+30%) report the strongest regional hiring intentions, with an Outlook that is relatively stable year-over-year, but 2 percentage points weaker when compared to fourth quarter of 2007. This is followed by Gauteng, showing a healthy Net Employment Outlook of +28%. Employers in the Free State are the least optimistic about adding to their headcount in the first quarter 2008, with a still respectable Net Employment Outlook of +19%.

Engineering Skills Shortage

Coetzee specifically notes that engineering and project management skills within the Mining and Construction sectors are in high demand by employers. "We still find that the demand for engineers far outweighs the availability of quality skilled candidates. As talent shortages become more pervasive, employers will need to pay more attention to how they attract and retain employees.'

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