UK chief execs get their hiring mojo back

As the UK unemployment figure falls to 7.1%, a survey has found two-thirds of British bosses are planning to hire more staff this year. An interest rate rise could come sooner than expected...

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 24 Feb 2015

UK company bosses are among the most confident in the world, a survey by PwC reckons, with two thirds expecting to hire more staff this year.

UK chief execs were more positive than the global average and most of their European counterparts. 93% said they were confident about their company’s revenue prospects in the next year, up from 78% last year, according to the auditor's Annual Global CEO Survey.

This was reflected in chief execs’ plans for hiring, with 65% of UK bosses saying they plan to up headcount in 2014, up from 45% since 2013 and well above the 50% average of chief execs worldwide. Only company heads in Taiwan, Korea and the Middle East said they were more likely to recruit staff. Which is nice.

The survey’s upbeat result comes as the IMF updated its forecasts for UK growth this year to 2.4%, from its original figure of 1.9%, as unemployment continues to fall.

‘The sharp recovery in confidence in the UK may partly reflect the length and depth of the downturn, with businesses’ pent-up growth potential finally being released,’ PwC’s chairman Ian Powell said.

‘Companies right across the UK are moving beyond the private optimism they’ve been expressing in the boardroom to real activity in the market.’

Almost half of UK businesses rated innovation as the best way to grow their business in the next year (no kidding), with 25% optimistically saying they would increase their share of existing markets and 16% rating mergers and acquisitions as their priority.

The survey also found UK chief execs are comparatively inward-looking – only 5% think their growth will be mainly driven by new geographic markets, compared to 14% globally. So much for David Cameron and his enthusiasm for exporting...

If UK bosses put their money where their mouth is, we could see unemployment dropping below 7% sooner rather than later – the magic level where Bank of England head Mark Carney said he would consider raising interest rates.

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