Employers at companies in the east of England are among the most optimistic in the country with many looking to create jobs, according to a new survey.
Workforce experts Manpower say confidence in the economy is highest among company bosses across the eastern region than anywhere else in the country.
But Manpower warns that companies may well face big problems finding the right staff.
They say a shortage of people with the right skills means many firms could struggle to recruit the labour they need.
Manpower has also warned that a decision to leave the European Union in the referendum on June 23 could see a dramatic fall in the number of people available to work.
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of 2,100 UK employers gave an outlook of +10 per cent for the east of England - up 1 per cent from the first quarter of 2016 with job prospects in the region above the national average for the 16th quarter running.
The survey asks whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.
Krissie Davies, operations director at Manpower, said: “Employers in eastern England are the most optimistic in the UK going into the second quarter of 2016, and it’s fantastic to see we are maintaining our strong start to the year.
“This is the sixth consecutive quarter of above average hiring intentions in the east, as employers continue to seek good candidates, particularly in customer service and IT.
“We’re seeing the impact of skills shortages on all types of roles.”
In Peterborough, the skills in highest demand are in the customer service, transport and warehousing industries.
There has also been a fall in demand for sales people in the area, easing some of the talent shortages Peterborough employers had been experiencing.
Cambridge in particular is feeling the pressure on jobs in engineering, IT and scientific sectors.
These talent shortages are fuelling a rise in the number of counter offers made to employees thinking of moving on, and many candidates are opting to accept the counter offer and remain with their current employer.
Ms Davies said: “Counter offers could prove risky for employers though. It’s important to understand the primary motivations behind seeking opportunities elsewhere as these are not always financial. We often see candidates on the job hunt again several months after accepting a counter offer once they have realised that they still desire change.
“Some employers in the region seem to be struggling to keep up with the pace of the labour market.
“Many, often those with less frequent recruitment requirements, can be slow to take hiring decisions and subsequently lose good quality candidates who take up opportunities elsewhere.”
Nationally, hiring intentions among Britain’s employers in the first half of 2016 are at their strongest level since 2007.
The national seasonally adjusted Net Employment Outlook is at plus seven per cent for the second consecutive quarter, a start to the year not seen for nearly a decade.
But there is uncertainty about whether this demand for talent can be fulfilled if Britain votes to leave the European Union.
James Hick, ManpowerGroup Solutions’ managing director, said: “British businesses continue to create the job opportunities that have helped get Britain back to work since the 2008 financial crisis.
“But while there’s clearly the demand for workers, we also need to protect the supply of talent.
“Employers of all shapes and sizes rely on the free movement of people inside Europe to find the skills they need.
“The latest employment statistics showed that of the 521,000 jobs created in the last 12 months, 215,000 of these were filled by people from elsewhere in the EU.
“Let’s be realistic. We simply won’t be able to replace overnight the skills these people bring to the UK if we leave the EU, and it’s our economy that will suffer.
“Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2006 – it’s unrealistic to suggest there’s enough slack in the labour market out there to fill these jobs.”
The outlook for the rest of the country:
West Midlands +9 per cent.
London +10 per cent.
South West +10 per cent.
South East +5 per cent.
East Midlands +7 per cent.
North East +6 per cent.
North West +2 per cent.
Yorkshire & the Humber +7 per cent.
Wales +3 per cent.
Scotland +6 per cent.
Northern Ireland +8 per cent.