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So what happens now?

2010 is shaping up as an "interesting" year.

The last 18 months has changed a lot of what we have been doing in many spheres of our lives. We're probably spending less but also borrowing less, and definitely taking less risk. We have seen an "inversion" - some of the wealthy and those we may have admired or even respected, have lost everything, and some through no fault of their own, again, lost everything as well. We will see the fall-out for many years to come. The word "normal" has disappeared from our vocabulary and been replaced by synonyms of "unknown". A client recently said that 2010 is shaping up to be an "interesting" one, and he then went on to explain how we use the term "interesting" a lot when we don't want to say what we really think! That's an "interesting" interpretation, but so true.

In the latter part of 2009, we saw a welcome change, with our formal shift out of the recession heralded by very modest economic growth. Real estate was back on the increase, unemployment was stabilising, and over Christmas, retail spending was up. So 2010 has dawned with a much more positive feeling and cautious optimism in most spheres.

One of the anomalies of the last 18 months has been the employment market, even though unemployment rose. Economists predicted double digit unemployment. Those of us in the front line, and in the know, said "Rubbish!" (Well, I for one did!). And we were right. The revised figures are around 7%, and even then, that may be a stretch. Sure there have been some pockets of unemployment categories, but generally, the employment market has held up and good skills remain difficult to secure. What has been different is that companies have held on to good people and this has been supported by the less risk averse staying put. A bit like the housing market starved of good listings which has pushed the prices of good properties upwards!

So what do I see happening this year in the employment market over the next 12 months? I'm confident we'll see more "churn". People will start "peeping out of the curtains", looking over the landscape, and start looking at other opportunities. A couple of surveys in the last 12 months pointed out that more than 50% of those employed were not happy in their jobs, but weren't prepared to change in recessionary times. I don't blame them because security prevailed, but discontent only can be tolerated for so long and as things improve, we'll see more people seeking new opprtunities and their roles becomng available - and so on.

We all predicted that contracting will come back strongly, and we saw this definitely happen in the last 2-3 months of 2009. Fixed term roles have also emerged as options for companies, as they provide a "half-way house" for both companies and employees going forward. Both these options are beneficial for all parties as it provides either the toe or the foot in the water, as opposed to jumping in. 2010 will see these categories increase, but the supply of good contracting talent will remain tight.

As far as skill shortages go, we will see this exacerbated in the coming year, because as the economy ramps up, the demand for top talent will increase to feed this growth, and we may even see a stutter in this desired growth due to the lack of appropriate skills available.

But it's not all bad. There is a silver lining to the recession, and the fact that some "baby-boomers" have been affected financially. Many have no choice but to continue working, with some saying they'll still be working in their seventies. The desertion of the management and professional skill ranks that was predicted to happen from about now until 2015 just won't happen, and the steady hands needed to guide us forward will remain.

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