COMPANIES have become more pessimistic about employment prospects in the next few months, but are keen to recruit workers from eastern Europe, according to a report.

A survey of 1,000 employers found that job prospects had fallen to their lowest level for two years, said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Only one in three of those polled said they expected their staff numbers to increase by the start of the New Year.

A quarter of employers said they planned to hire migrant workers this winter, especially those in London and in the public sector.

The survey, published ahead of new unemployment figures, showed that companies were more keen to recruit workers from EU accession countries.

The CIPD said employment prospects for the next three months had fallen to their lowest level since its survey began two years ago.

EU accession countries such as Poland had become a more popular source of migrant labour than the ''old'' European Union, representing a shift from a year ago, said the report