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Demand for professional talent up 29% as 1 in 3 UK workers plan to move jobs

This increase in opportunities coincides with the latest research from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) which has announced that 37% of workers are planning to leave their current jobs in 2015 - a dramatic increase from 2014 (19%) and 2013 (13%).

Growth across the board but engineering continues to lead the way

Beneath this headline figure, the latest data from APSCo reveals that growth in the professional staffing market continues to climb across all of the trade association’s core sector groups. Permanent vacancies across finance & accounting, IT, engineering and media & marketing are all up year-on-year (16%, 31%, 53% and 15% respectively). This positive sentiment is in line with recent figures released by the CBI, which reported that half of British businesses are planning to expand their workforce in 2015.

The phenomenal growth of the engineering sector over the past year can largely be attributed to government initiatives to improve infrastructure. Ongoing projects such as HS2 and Crossrail continue to drive an acute need for experienced talent to work in the sector. Despite a slight slowdown in productivity last month, the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) by data firm Markit/CIPS shows growth rates remain well above historical averages in this area, and the falling price of crude oil should further help boost trade and drive opportunities in engineering.

Salaries mirror vacancy growth with the exception of sales and media & marketing

APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors were up by a respectable 3% year-on-year. This overall growth is characterised by notable fluctuations in terms of sector, with engineering, for example, recording an uplift of 8%. However both the media & marketing and sales arenas have both stalled somewhat, reporting slight decreases year-on-year (-0.3% and -1.9% respectively). This average rise in remuneration is in keeping with the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee which forecasts pay rises in the coming year.

Uncertainty surrounding upcoming election may impact hiring

Despite this positivity, however, APSCo warns that it remains to be seen what impact the General Election will have on the professional recruitment market. The latest Deloitte CFO Survey, for example, reveals that the May’s General Election is of major concern to organisations. In fact, when asked to rate the level of risk posed on a scale of 0 to 100, CFOs attached a 63 rating to the General Election – significantly higher than the 56 attached to deflation of the Euro or the 39 points awarded to further cuts in spending. This may be because many analysts have predicted that, given the surge in support for smaller parties such as Ukip, the SNP and the Greens, a hung parliament is a real possibility. For this reason, companies are likely to remain cautious surrounding hiring in early 2015 as CFOs resist investing in talent until the political landscape is less volatile.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo comments:

“As we enter 2015, it is clear that the upsurge in vacancies we have recorded throughout the past twelve months is a real indicator of sustained economic stability. Despite this optimism, we predict that uncertainty in the run up to this year’s general election, and any associated impact on policy, may have an adverse effect on vacancy levels in early 2015 as organisations put the brakes on hiring to wait for greater stability. Consequently, we will not be surprised if vacancy numbers dip in quarters one and two, however we expect these to recover in a flurry of hiring activity in the early summer months.

“The fact that Deloitte has found that CFOs believe business investment in the UK will rise by 9% this year - higher than other major industrialised nations – indicates real optimism in the future of the UK economy. This positivity is mirrored in the ambition of the many UK professionals who are planning on switching roles in the coming year.”

John Nurthen, Executive Director, Global Research for Staffing Industry Analysts, which compiles the report for APSCo, comments:

“It’s reassuring that the good growth in permanent vacancies which began in the second half of 2013 has followed through right to the end of 2014. And it is unfortunate that the early part of 2015 will be shrouded in uncertainty given upcoming elections.

“What potentially makes this electoral uncertainty even more damaging this time around is that a win for the Conservatives (either by a majority or with coalition partners) means that there will be an In-Out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017. So, even with the election concluded, we might be facing a two year hiatus when business will not know whether the UK will remain a member of the European Union or not. For many employers, business planning for 2016 and 2017 may become a somewhat myopic affair.”


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