Q3 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey: Key findings

Michael Stull, ManpowerGroup UK’s Managing Director, reviews the latest Survey data, revealing what lies ahead for the UK labour market during the July – September period.

It’s June already, and summer – not to mention a surprise general election – is already almost upon us. The results of our latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey are also now in. Looking at the data, there’s positive-yet-cautious hiring intent evident amongst the Survey’s 2,100 UK respondents going into the second half of the year. Despite a three percentage point decrease, quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), the UK’s Net Employment Outlook remains at a healthy +20%, placing the UK +3% above the Q3 EMEA regional Outlook of +19%, but behind the global Outlook of +22%.

Let’s take a look at what the latest Net Employment Outlook means in more detail for some key sectors, regions and age groups, as well as touching on some nascent national tech deployment trends we’ll be watching closely over coming months…

Q3 hiring demand: Healthcare & Life Sciences, IT, Industrial & Materials, and Finance & Real Estate lead the way

  • Sectors showing the biggest hiring appetite going into summer: Healthcare & Life Sciences (+38%), IT (+29%), Industrials & Materials (+27%), and Finance & Real Estate (+23%), led by enterprise-sized companies (+39%, +15% QoQ).
  • Most in-demand roles: These include admin/secretarial, IT, engineering, manufacturing and production, retail, logistics and supply chain roles. Renewed need for permanent roles is also evident (itself a further sign that business confidence is slowly returning).
  • The main reasons for hiring in Q3: (1) Organisational growth/creating new roles (+36%); (2) Backfilling vacancies (+35%); and (3) Project-based hires (+28%).
  • Hiring volume and seniority: Thirty-five percent (35%) of Survey respondents indicate that they plan to increase headcount between 1 and 249 workers going into the second half of the year, across entry-level, non-management and supervisory roles, in particular.
  • Larger companies return to volume hiring: Building on the slowly rebounding UK business confidence we saw last quarter amongst smaller firms, larger companies are cautiously returning to hire at volume once again after the retrenchment and redundancy rounds seen over recent months.
  • Communication Services and Energy & Utilities employers are not as confident: Survey respondents across both these sectors anticipate substantial quarter-on-quarter hiring declines going into the summer, with Communication Services’ Q3 Net Employment Outlook dropping to 0% (-21% QoQ) and Energy & Utilities falling to -12% (-30% QoQ). This could be due to various different factors – across the Communication Services space, there is weakening demand for media and marketing roles (suggesting that this sector is yet to regain hiring confidence), whilst Energy & Utilities’ profit margins continue to be squeezed due to a combination of revenue declines, high infrastructure costs and slowing impetus around the UK’s Net Zero targets.

Technology: London doesn’t have a monopoly on ‘new tech’

  • Goodbye London-centric notions: Deployment of new technologies such as generative AI, machine-learning and virtual reality (VR) remain front-of-mind for many hiring managers. Whilst London represents the largest proportion of self-classified ‘early adopters’ of these technologies amongst Q3 Survey respondents (26%)[1], national tech adoption rankings take on a decidedly more regional hue when it comes to current usage. Look at these examples:
    • The North East has the highest proportion of businesses actively using elements of AI technologies in their business processes heading into Q3 (43%), spanning the call centre, manufacturing, transport and logistics sectors
    • The South West has the biggest tranche of machine-learning users (38%) – evidence of Bristol’s growing prominence as an R&D hub for data storage, analytics, biotechnology and IPU (Intelligence Processing Unit) work
    • The North West leads nationally when it comes to VR usage (31%) associated with the region’s expanding bioscience and health technology sectors.

Regional tech usage and Gen Z worker demand: recalibrating the UK’s ‘North-South’ divide

  • There’s strong Gen Z worker demand going into the next quarter: Close to half of UK hiring managers surveyed (45%) indicate they intend to hire younger workers, with ‘under-25’ hiring intent in Northern Ireland (53%), Scotland (50%), Wales (49%), East Midlands (49%), and Yorkshire & Humberside (48%) all marginally ahead of London (47%) – a correlation with our regional tech deployment data suggesting that younger workers are not only more familiar and comfortable with new technologies, they also have transferrable skills and may find more career opportunities across regional tech/R&D hubs across the UK than in the capital.
  • It’s early days, though: We’ll be watching these numbers closely over coming months – but these ‘decentralised’ tech deployment patterns could have the potential to recalibrate the UK’s long-perceived ‘North-South’ opportunity and prosperity divide.
  • And that’s not all: Alongside Gen Z candidate targeting, almost a third (29%) of Q3 Survey respondents say they will also be looking to recruit candidates from ethnic minorities. A quarter (26%) are prioritising those returning to work following extended time off for childcare, or those who are long-term unemployed (25%). One-in-five (21%) plans to recruit candidates with disabilities, and (21%) are seeking to recruit those from low socio-economic backgrounds. Twenty-one percent (21%) also intend to recruit seasoned workers (candidates over 50 years old).

Opportunities are out there and business confidence is returning

  • ‘Red sky at night: shepherds’ delight’: I remember my Mum telling me that when I was a kid. It’s also true of the UK labour market going into the second half of the year: opportunities are out there and business confidence is slowly returning.
  • Let’s challenge stereotypes: As our latest Survey results attest, the demand for younger workers going into Q3 is also reassuring. The stereotypical view that Gen Z lacks a proper work ethic miscasts a generation otherwise keen to acquire skills and utilise new technology in a rapidly evolving labour market – albeit on their terms. With around three million young people economically inactive in the UK, and a further half a million registered unemployed, the strong appetite to hire from this age group next quarter can be turned into a meaningful opportunity.
  • Unlocking prosperity for all: To my mind, the best way to unlock the future prosperity of the country is to unlock the potential of its people. With 80% of employers reporting difficulty finding talent with the skills they need – up from 14% ten years ago[2] – this evolution is already affecting employers’ ability to hire and grow. It’s imperative we get this right for the UK economy generally and Gen Z specifically, given they will make up around 60% of the global workforce by 2030[3]. This pivot towards ‘lifelong learning’ will require a new, co-ordinated effort between businesses, education and training institutions as well as government to implement. Otherwise, millions of employees risk being left behind as technology evolves.




A ‘Net Employment Outlook’ is calculated by subtracting those employers who plan to reduce staffing levels from those who plan to hire staff. A positive result indicates that more employers plan to increase rather than decrease staffing levels; a negative result reflects the opposite. [% increase – % decrease]. For international comparisons and visual library with graphs, visit manpowergroup.com

Commentary is based on seasonally adjusted data where available. Full survey results for each of the 42 countries and territories included in this quarter’s survey, plus regional and global comparisons, can be found in the ManpowerGroup Press Room at www.manpowergroup.com/meos. In addition, all tables and graphs from the full report are available to be downloaded for use in publication or broadcast from the ManpowerGroup website at: http://www.manpowergroup.com/press/meos.cfm

Note that in Quarter 2 2008, the Survey adopted the TRAMO-SEATS model for seasonal adjustment of data. As a result, you may notice some seasonally adjusted data points change slightly from previous reports. This model is recommended by the Eurostat department of the European Union and the European Central Bank, and is widely used internationally.

About the Survey 

The world leader in innovative workforce solutions, ManpowerGroup releases the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey quarterly to measure employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforces during the next quarter. It is the longest running, most extensive, forward-looking employment survey in the world, polling 40,700 employers across 42 countries and territories. The survey serves as a bellwether of labour market trends and activities and is regularly used to inform the Bank of England’s Inflation Reports, as well as a regular data source for the European Commission, informing its EU Employment Situation and Social Outlook report, the Monthly Monitor. ManpowerGroup’s independent survey data is also sourced by financial analysts and economists around the world to help determine where labour markets are headed.

[1] An ‘early adopter’ was defined in the Q3 Survey as ‘we are fully leveraging these technologies’; ‘current adopters’ as ‘elements of our processes currently use these technologies.’

[2] “ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey 2024, United Kingdom” ManpowerGroup 2024: https://www.manpowergroup.co.uk/the-word-on-work/b_talent-shortage-survey-2024/

[3] “The Age of Adaptability, Leading a Modern, Sustainable Workforce” ManpowerGroup 2024: https://workforce-resources.manpowergroup.com/white-papers/the-age-of-adaptability