SCOTTISH employers’ optimism about future hiring dipped in the first quarter, and was adrift of that in the UK as a whole, a survey shows.

Subtracting the proportion planning to reduce staffing levels from those expecting to raise employee numbers, a net four per cent of Scottish companies projected an increase in their workforce in the coming quarter, according to the ManpowerGroup survey published today.

Jason Greaves, operations director at Manpower, observed hiring in Scotland had been slower to pick up after the usual start-of-year dip, but noted more positive signs in the last month. He cited strength of demand for employees from financial services companies and utilities, and buoyancy of call-centre sector. recruitment

Mr Greaves said: “Hiring has been slower to pick up following the traditional dip in demand in Q1, but there are signs of employer confidence returning in the last month, and our Scottish companies are showing more optimism about the economy and their own business prospects.

“Interestingly, despite Brexit uncertainty, financial services and utilities companies have been the best-performing over recent months.”

He added: “Contact centre roles are also in demand, so these companies require a slick recruitment process.”

In the UK as a whole, a net six per cent of companies signalled a rise in employee numbers in the coming quarter.

Manpower said: “This unexpected lift comes amid sluggish macroeconomic data and continuing uncertainty about how we will leave the EU, despite the Brexit clock ticking.”