A third of brands to hire marketers in next 3 months

The quarterly IPA Bellwether Report reveals for the first time that marketers are feeling confident enough to hire despite ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and what it will mean for the UK economy.

Marketers are feeling confident about employment opportunities despite concerns over economic growth following the vote to leave the European Union.

For the first time this quarter, the IPA’s Bellwether Report asked respondents how they feel about employment in the industry. And in responses shared only with Marketing Week it found that almost a third (29.5%) of marketers expect overall employment to be higher in three months’ time compared to now.

This was more than double the percentage that predicted a fall (13%), and means a net balance score of +16.4%. Some 57.5% expect employment to stay the same.

While this is the first time this question has been posed to marketers as part of the report, the results show business are planning to invest in staff despite the uncertain economic and political climate. Paul Smith, senior economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the report for the IPA, says many brands are looking to take advantage of new opportunities and markets thrown up by Brexit.

“While the surprising vote result has to a degree undermined financial prospects both at the company and industry levels, the immediate economic impact has perhaps not been as severe as some envisaged in the immediate aftermath of the vote,” he explains. “Indeed, companies are seeing both threats and opportunities following the Brexit vote.”

“There is a sense among some companies of a return to ‘business-as-usual’, with Brexit also offering new markets and opportunities to seek out.”

Paul Smith, senior economist, IHS Markit

In fact, Smith suggests that the bigger challenge for marketers may not be in convincing bosses to let them hire but in recruiting and retaining high calibre staff. And this could be exacerbated if the UK chooses to pursue a ‘hard’ Brexit, as Prime Minister Theresa May seemed to suggest was on the agenda at the recent Conservative Party Conference.

“This could significantly reduce the ability of businesses to recruit from the EU labour pool,” says Smith.

And Paul Troy, CMO at Confused.com, thinks the positive outlook is unlikely to last through next year. He suggests there could be employment freezes next year, particularly over the summer as consumers increasingly concerned at what Brexit means for them put a halt to big purchases.

“If you look at the numbers on Brexit, 48% didn’t think it was a good idea and a lot of those people were in London and the South East, where people tend to be well off. If they stop spending, and I think they will, it will be tough,” he says.

Elsewhere, the Bellwether Report told a similarly optimistic story of Q3, with the proportion of marketers upping their marketing spend at the highest level for more than two years. Some 26.2% of panellists recorded growth in budgets, compared to 12.9% that registered a fall, meaning a net balance of +13.4%.

Read more: Brexit set to be a rollercoaster for marketing budgets and jobs

“Efforts to alleviate competitive pressures, and in some instances a desire to respond positively to the EU referendum result to maintain brand exposure both in domestic and international markets, meant that overall budgets were raised to the greatest degree recorded by the survey since the second quarter of 2014,” says Smith.

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