Figures for the three months to December show that employment in manufacturing rose by 0.5%. This was the first rise in employment in the sector since 1998 and follows on from record employment balances on EEF's Business Trends survey. In q1's survey a balance of 28% of manufacturers said they had taken on new workers in the last three months and there is some reason to hope that this will continue, with 27% of manufacturers intending to take on new workers in the next three months.
But this one quarter's growth in employment cannot be taken for granted. While the strength in manufacturing activity in 2010 meant firms needed to take on new workers, anecdotal evidence suggests that much of this employment was on a temporary or agency basis. Firms will be hoping to convert these workers to permanent staff, but will only be able to do so if the recovery translates into sustained growth. Additionally, skills shortages are already holding firms back meaning vacancies are up by 33% since last year.