In their mid-year business forecast for the remainder of 2012, members of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) – the worldwide professional association for retained executive search consultants – confirmed the uncertainty which prevails in most areas of the world economy with 51% of respondents casting a neutral vote, 31% positive and 18% negative. This compares with an overwhelmingly favourable forecast 12 months ago when 66% held a positive outlook and 27% were neutral.
Commenting on the outlook AESC President, Peter Felix, said: “It is perfectly understandable that our members should continue to be cautious when so much of the world economy is in some form or other of turbulence, or at best, constrained growth. The Eurozone worries are severely hampering business development in Europe while the new markets of the world are wrestling with overheated economies and reduced growth. The only bright spot is the United States, where “green shoots” have emerged in the past 12 months, but these are far from dependable and are restrained by the uncertainty of the November presidential elections. We can only hope that this overall period of uncertainty will not continue into 2013.”
Despite the flat outlook, the report shows that clear indications persist of an underlying talent shortage in many areas of the world, even in certain sectors within the developed economies. There is an overwhelming need for globally experienced executives in many corporations, especially those with multinational aspirations from the major emerging markets of China, India and Brazil. Africa is also demonstrating a critical need now for experienced executives as its economy begins to develop.
Peter Felix added: “It seems ironic in a period of economic instability and high unemployment levels that there should be such a shortage of skilled and experienced executives to fill jobs around the world. Yet overall demand for retained search consulting remains at generally high levels, and still at the third highest since the all-time high of 2008. If these levels can be maintained, then as stability eventually returns to the world economy we can expect to see critical competition for executive talent between countries and industry sectors and our profession can look forward to further demand for its services. We remain confident that this will occur in due course.”