More than a quarter (28 percent) of UK firms expect to recruit more next year, with demand to be particularly high in the technology industry, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey has found.

This is just over double the number of companies that planned to increase headcount the same time last year.

The survey of HR directors in 1,100 companies across Europe and the UK also revealed that 15 percent of the companies planning to boost headcount said the increases will be significant. Furthermore, the number of companies planning to cut jobs has fallen from 43 percent in 2009 to 16 percent this year.

“The expected headcount increases suggest the private sector will be able to accommodate those public sector workers who are made redundant,” said Michael Rendell, head of HR services at PwC.

“While 13 percent of firms say the new jobs will be making up for reductions made during the downturn, 15 percent plan significant increases over and above this point.

“We expect demand to be particularly high among services, technology and manufacturing industries.”

However, the consultancy said that skills shortages may be a challenge for companies hoping to fill these additional roles. Fifty-three percent of UK respondents ranked skills shortages was the biggest challenge for them, compared with 27 percent of US companies.

“Companies need to take a more systematic approach to learning and development, identifying the skills they need for particular roles and training staff accordingly. Moreover, employers need to do more to ensure people have the right skills when they start their careers, and partnering with universities and schools may help achieve this goal,” said Rendell.

Meanwhile, IT recruitment consultancy IntaPeople said that although technology graduate vacancies in the UK have increased by almost 80 percent, new graduates are losing out to more experienced jobseekers.

“We estimate that graduates are being overlooked for these opportunities around 30 percent of the time,” said Stephen Riley, director at IntaPeople.

“A difficult economy has seen skilled IT professionals applying for roles that would usually be considered too junior for them. Although many employers set out with the intention of taking on fresh talent, they often find it hard to resist these more experienced applicants – especially if they are available at a similar salary level.”

IntaPeople said that the most sought-after skill in IT graduates this year has been for .NET developers, followed by IT support workers.