According to new research, over four in five businesses now feel confident about business growth prospects in the second half of the year. 

New data by specialist recruiter Robert Half shows that business confidence levels have increased by 10 per cent since the start of the year, with over a quarter (28 per cent) of businesses now feeling “very confident” of growth this year.

In addition to this, over half (58 per cent) feel “somewhat confident”, showing the uncertainty linked to COVID-19 hasn’t quite been removed.

The new report details that the biggest factor which threatens business growth is employers struggling to find employees with the right mix of skills, with the majority focused on reskilling and upskilling employees to meet evolving business needs and opportunities brought on by the pandemic.

When asked to identify the most in-demand skills, employers largely desired candidates to have hybrid skills which encompassed both ‘soft’ and ‘more technical’ skills as well as digital and data capabilities, change management and communication.

The sectors which reported the most demand for talent included:

  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Logistics
  • Financial services
  • Consultancy

For Chief Technology Officers, this included roles such as Cloud Engineers, Front-End Developers and Business Transformation Specialists. However, for General Hiring Managers, the top priority hires include business managers, office managers and sales personnel.

This comes as the world of working has changed permanently with the vast majority of managers (89 per cent) viewing hybrid working as a permanent part of the employment landscape.

Matt Weston, Managing Director of Robert Half, said:

Our newest employment market data shows a shift as we move into what we hope will be the latter stage of the pandemic cycle, and a return to a more confident and secure labour market for employees and employers alike. Businesses have been forced to expedite digitisation initiatives and have found a wealth of new growth opportunities through that evolution.

As businesses continue towards growth and recovery, Robert Half has seen staffing concerns centre on reskilling and upskilling, which has driven demand for candidates with hybrid skills (26 per cent) and digital skills (26 per cent).

That’s not to say the current climate hasn’t taken its toll on the UK’s workforce. Over a third (37%) of workers are suffering from burnout and low morale. To maximise future expansion opportunities, employers will need to support teams by continuing to offer remote and flexible working to bring work-life balance back into equilibrium.


*The Special UK Report: Demand for Skilled Talent is a Robert Half report presented in association with Burning Glass compiled using interview data sourced from 300 UK senior executives of various sized private and public organisations in April 2021. Worker data has been taken from online surveys conducted by Robert Half between April-May 2021.