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Sustained rise in vacancies for highly skilled workers

Sustained rise in vacancies for highly skilled workers

•              Vacancies still 18% down year-on-year

•              Up 17% month-on-month

Vacancies for highly skilled workers have rocketed by double digits for the second consecutive month, up 17% in February following a similar rise in January, according to research by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

The research shows that demand for professional-level workers (bankers, lawyers, IT professionals etc.) has rebounded strongly since the start of the year after a steep decline in the second half of 2011. The growth in jobs in February suggests that the recovery in demand for professional-level workers in January was not just a seasonal blip. APSCo points out, however, that despite vacancies for permanent candidates jumping 17% over the past month, they were still 18% lower than last February.

Vacancies for temps and contractors were up 11% in February (following an 11% rise in January) but are still marginally down year-on-year (-5%).

The research is from the APSCo Monthly Trends Report, which analyses job vacancies and placements across the UK professional staffing sector. The report compares data from thousands of vacancies and placements supplied by APSCo members who place professional candidates within the UK.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive for APSCo, comments: “The eurozone crisis sent the market off a cliff in the second half of 2011. We are only now starting to see green shoots return. There is normally a seasonal surge in job vacancies in January, but for that to continue throughout February suggests a genuine improvement in confidence feeding through to job creation.”

“Demand for contractors and temporary workers held up quite well over the last six months as employers put off taking on staff. With the spectre of a double dip recession receding, employers are reviving hiring plans and are feeling much more confident about committing to boosting permanent headcounts.”

According to APSCo, vacancies for IT professionals have recovered strongest among the highly skilled sectors surveyed. Vacancies for permanent candidates were up 69% month-on-month vacancies for contractors and temps up 57% month-on-month.

Ann Swain says: “Demand for IT skills is generally counter-cyclical, but vacancies plummeted at the end of last year as the eurozone crisis sent a chill through the market. Barring another crisis, we would expect IT to be among the strongest performing sectors for the rest of 2012.”

According to the Monthly Trends report, vacancies in banking and finance in London – among the hardest hit by the eurozone crisis - are still 13% down year-on-year, but evidence is emerging of an upturn in demand.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, says: “City recruiters had a pretty dire close to 2011, but the market is now stabilising. The Greek restructuring deal seems to have calmed nerves a little and there are signs that, while this may not be the end of the crisis, it is hopefully the beginning of the end.”

“While the large banks are still cautious, some of the niche trading firms and funds are expanding their operations and scooping up talent. These firms are less constrained over pay and bonuses, so are in a position to bring in talent which they might not otherwise get a look at.”


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