ishn globalWhile U.S. companies contend with a shortage of EHS professionals and of skilled laborers, a global look at current and expected hiring levels reveals a complex picture.

According to ManpowerGroup's first-quarter 2013 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, the majority of employers in the global labor market are less confident about adding staff than they were at the start of 2012, suggesting a more difficult time ahead for job seekers in some countries.

In 29 of 42 countries and territories, the forecasts are “softer” compared to this time last year. Hiring intentions are down in 21 countries.

The weaker hiring sentiment is most evident across Europe, where employers in 13 of 24 countries are reporting negative outlooks for the first quarter, compared to eight countries just three months ago. However, the German labor market shows signs of resilience, as employers there report a similar forecast from three months ago. The uncertainty in demand also extends to China, where employers report the weakest hiring plans in three years.

Meanwhile, U.S. employers say they will hire at the same steady pace seen over the past six months.

"Worldwide, businesses are hesitating with investments due to uncertainty and this includes their investment in talent," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, Chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. "In Europe, more companies are telling us they will cut staff to adjust to the weaker demand. In fact, employers in seven European countries are reporting their weakest forecasts since we have been tracking hiring trends. But the current softening across global labor markets is much different than in 2008-2009. We are not seeing widespread doom and gloom, but rather more of a prolonged standstill in hiring. We do see a few bright spots. UK employers are reporting the strongest outlook in four years and the German market should remain steady over the next three months. In addition, job prospects in the U.S. remain stable, and perhaps now with the elections behind us the labor market can gain some traction."

More than one third (35%) of EHS professionals who responded to ISHN’s 28th annual White Paper Reader Survey said their company was experiencing a shortage of skilled labor. Nearly one half (49%) said their company encountered a shortage of EHS candidates when attempting to fill safety positions. Most (67%) characterized the shortage was “moderate,” but 33% called it “significant.”

ManpowerGroup's hiring confidence index reveals that first-quarter hiring plans are strongest in Taiwan, India, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Panama while those in Greece, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Netherlands are the weakest worldwide.

Across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, first-quarter hiring plans are positive in 11 of 24 countries with Outlooks improving or remaining relatively stable from three months ago in 13 labor markets. On the other hand, a year-over-year analysis reveals that the hiring pace is expected to weaken in three-quarters of the countries surveyed. Job prospects in the region are expected to be strongest in Turkey, Israel and Romania and weakest in Greece, Italy and Spain.

Data for Eastern Europe reveals a prevalent weakening trend in all of the countries we survey, with Polish employers reporting their first-ever negative forecast.

A global leader in innovative workforce solutions, ManpowerGroup releases the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey quarterly to measure employers' intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforce during the next quarter.