Demand for engineers in industry and research has weakened within the past two years, according to research by the Institute of Management (IoM) and staff agency Manpower.
The survey says jobs growth could rise by up to 35% this year, driven by customer services, IT, sales and marketing.
But industrial companies predict growth in employment of engineers and technicians could be no higher than 20%; some predict a 10% cut in the number of engineers employed. This compares to a 23% increase among this group recorded by the same survey in 1997.
Among research and development staff, the outlook is similar, with forecasts ranging from job cuts of 5% to growth of around 15%. This contrasts with two years ago, when firms posted a 25% increase in R&D jobs.
Overall, new job opportunities are declining. ‘This year’s market looks set to be cooler than last year, resulting in tougher competition for jobs,’ said Mary Chapman, director general of the IoM.
A ‘job market index’, published by the Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services last week, showed the number of jobs available on the UK market is at its lowest point since 1992. It says the fall in the number of private-sector jobs accelerated in January.
According to the IoM survey, which polled 328 senior executives, even in the biggest growth areas the increases are modest by last year’s standards. Some 31% of business leaders predict a growth in IT jobs this year, compared with 74% last year. The number expecting to hire more customer services staff is down from 57% last year to 34% now.
Almost two fifths said their company had been restructured during 1998, though 43% of those restructuring said the move had no impact or had even led to reduced profits.
The poll showed that clerical, administrative and unskilled manual jobs are being squeezed. Growth areas are skilled manual, customer service and management positions.