The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has revealed British firms in the private sector will be taking on more staff in the next 12 months.

In collaboration with recruitment specialist Harvey Nash, the ’Seeking a Competitive Edge’ Employment Trends Survey of 300 firms discovered 35% of companies said they expected their workforces to increase during the period.

Only 15% of firms surveyed, which currently employ more than 1.4 million people between them, said they felt employee numbers would decline.

Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, said: “The performance of our flexible labour market in generating jobs in a sluggish economy is a mini-miracle. Businesses look set to continue with the positive, but cautious approach to hiring that we’ve seen over the past couple of years, and this is echoed in expected pay restraint designed to protect employment.”

The CBI also found that more than a third (36%) of business were planning wage increases either below inflation or on target for specific employees, and only 16% of employers were planning a pay freeze.

Albert Ellis, chief executive of Harvey Nash, said: “The hiring picture presented in the report overall remains a positive one, as businesses look for the best people in tough times. To gain a competitive edge, businesses are investing in and nurturing talent.

“Most encouragingly, more than a fifth of employers are looking to increase their graduate hiring in the next year and 23% are set to boost apprenticeship numbers, thereby investing in the skills of the next generation. This is also good news for those seeking out a first foothold on the career ladder, but the survey shows a lack of skills and experience is holding back some from fulfilling their potential.”

The CBI/Harvey Nash survey was conducted during August and September 2012, with respondents based across the UK and representing a wide range of company sizes and sectors.