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Business leaders say confidence is slowly returning to the South West

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 11, 2012

Tim Jones

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Business leaders have hailed as encouraging a survey which shows employers in the Westcountry are feeling increasingly confident about the future.

According to research commissioned by the firm Manpower, in the last three months the South West has been one of the best placed regions for growth in the jobs market.

Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said while it was too early to speak with certainty there were signs of a green shoots in the economy.

"At last we seem to have a bit of confidence creeping back into the market," he said.

"It is good news."

According to Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which is based on responses from 2,100 UK employers, the situation in the South West is improving.

Researchers asked employers whether they intended to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming economic quarter. The result is a comprehensive, forward-looking employment survey which is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the Government.

Researchers found that, in general, the jobs outlook was "firmly" in positive territory in spite of a slightly rocky start to the year.

Andrew Shellard, operations manager at recruitment firm Manpower, said their findings indicated that employers in the South West were ready to take on more staff.

"Despite starting 2012 in negative territory, the South West has shown great strength and is now maintaining its positive position," he said.

"Employers in the South West are optimistic and looking to hire.

"From public sector positions in hospitals to call centre advisers in financial services, the region is having a good year. Those seeking work should be flexible in their job searches and look for opportunities to up-skill and gain on-the-job experience," he said.

Mr Jones welcomed the survey, which he said backed up the anecdotal evidence from businesses across the region.

He said the jobs being created were not always high paying or high quality but in the current economic environment, they were vital.

"I have to say that when we are in this kind of market, which is so unprecedented, jobs at any price is an improvement on no jobs.

"I don't think we should be too worried if these jobs are coming in at the bottom level in terms of income and quality.

"Jobs are jobs in this market."

Mr Jones added that the region's myriad of smaller companies had found increased flexibility in the labour market had worked to their advantage.

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