With an Employment Outlook score of plus 11 per cent, the North West is second to only the South East (plus 12 per cent) in the country in terms of job prospects.
That is well above the national average of plus seven per cent, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.
The North East also recorded a positive outlook, suggesting the Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse may be warming up.
But the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce added a note of caution today.
Hugh Evans, deputy chief executive, said: “The survey results certainly paint a rosy picture for firms across the North West who are seeking to recruit.
“However our members are still telling us about major skill shortages in key sectors of the economy and this is an increasing barrier to raising productivity and competitiveness. For example in 2013 we were experiencing nine areas of skills shortages.
“Last year this rose to 43. We’re still seeing major shortages in engineering, IT, manufacturing, and, in particular, construction.
“There is a general consensus that here in the North West we are particularly lacking in workers proficient in STEM subjects with our own surveys finding that around 43 per cent of firms looking for staff with these skills have had difficulties recruiting with many of them saying the situation is getting worse”.
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,102 UK employers.
It asks whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter. It is the most comprehensive, forward-looking employment survey of its kind and is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the UK government.
Greg Hollis, Operations Manager at Manpower UK, said “The boost given to the Northern Powerhouse in the recent autumn statement is marked by a surge in hiring optimism in the North West going into the new year. “