Insurance job opportunities are predicted to soar ahead of the rest of the economy in the first quarter of 2001, according to recruitment specialists Manpower.

Its Quarterly Survey of Employment Prospects (QSEP) shows that opportunities in the insurance sector are among the most buoyant in the UK economy.

Manpower reports that 31% of insurance firms are preparing to recruit additional staff between January and April 2001 – the fifth highest level of the 19 sectors surveyed.

Iain Herbertson, managing director of Manpower, said: “The insurance sector has had steady growth over the past year but has doubled its prospects compared with the first quarter of 2000.”

The survey reveals that employer confidence across the economy is continuing to grow.

Herbertson added: “All signs point to achieving the holy grail of full employment.”

However, he warned that the tightening labour market had serious implications for insurance employers.

“Employers are now facing a different scenario to previous years – skilled candidates are in short supply and are demanding more help in terms of balancing their home and work life.”

Manpower's influential QSEP survey has been running for more than 30 years and is used by the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, which sets interest rates. The survey covers 2000 company directors.