Women is interviewed for a job
The Government's latest Budget aims to support people to return to the labour market Bigstock

Jobseekers remain optimistic about their job security and career progression prospects, according to the Robert Half Jobs Confidence Index (JCI) released on Monday.

Created in association with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), the Index reports on socio-economic factors influencing confidence in the UK labour market. The research revealed that while the JCI fell in Q4 2022 to stand at 19.9 - down 7.5 points from Q3 2022 (27.4) - it is still up 58.1 points from Q2 2009 during the global financial crisis.

The findings by Robert Half, one of the world's first and largest specialised talent solutions consultancy, come in light of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's comments on Wednesday that "the economy would no longer enter a technical recession in 2023, based on new forecasts from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility".

Britain's economy showed zero growth in the final three months of 2022, resulting in double-digit inflation. Last month, the Bank of England pushed national interest rates higher for the tenth time in a row. The 0.5 percentage point increase brought the base rate figure to 4 per cent, the highest it has been in 14 years.

The JCI data suggests that although the tough economic environment is impacting pay and macroeconomic confidence, trust in job availability, progression and pay is on an upward trajectory.

Matt Weston, Senior Managing Director UK & Ireland, at Robert Half, said the data doesn't paint a picture of labour confidence doom and gloom that one may expect.

"There's no shying away from the fact that the UK economy is facing challenges ahead, but our findings suggest that we are going to experience an atypical downturn," he claimed.

However, official figures released by the Government ahead of its Budget announcement showed job vacancies in the UK have fallen for the eighth time in a row.

The number of jobs on offer between December and February fell by 51,000 compared with the three months before. Despite the drop, the number of job vacancies remains high at 1.1 million.

Robert Half has warned that businesses will face an uphill battle for talent – and those that cut back on staff now will struggle to replace them when needed.

London Commuters
The rate of unemployment in the UK did not change in the three months up to January 2023 PA Images

Although officially there were about 1.3 million people in the UK unemployed in December 2022, lower than any point since the 1970s, these figures represent only a small part of the 10 million working-age people (aged 16-64) who aren't in a paid job.

Nearly nine million of these people aren't called "unemployed", because they're not actively looking for work, or available to start a job. Instead they are referred to as "economically inactive".

In the Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt set out a series of measures designed to encourage these people to find work.

According to Western, investment in existing workforces, and developing compelling attraction strategies will be crucial to ensure that employers have access to the skills they require in what will continue to be a tight labour market.