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Election uncertainty begins to impact jobs growth

This annual increase in opportunities is juxtaposed with a cool in month-on-month demand with vacancies declining by 1% between January and February 2015, due mainly to uncertainties around the General Election.  

APSCo’s data coincides with the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which show the number of people in work has increased by 143,000 in the three months to January, driving UK employment to a record-high of 30.94 million.

Demand for professional talent up 21% amid digital revolution  

Despite a marginal month-on-month slowdown, the latest data from APSCo reveals that year-on-year 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 (12%, 27%, 25% and 7% respectively). This positivity is in line with predictions from The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, which has forecast that Britain's economy will grow by 2.5% in 2015 as robust business investment outweighs risks from the euro zone.

The rapid growth of the IT sector, which APSCo has reported in recent months, can largely be attributed to a widely recognised national shift in roles in response to the digital economy. According to research from PwC, 1.8m people — 6% of all workers — are now employed in a type of job that did not even exist in 1990, a figure that rises to 10% in London. Furthermore, the report suggests the Capital will continue to be the primary driver in UK new digital job creation and is expected to grow 25 per cent over the next decade, with 13.8 per cent of this growth expected to be generated in the Inner London area.

Average salaries mirror market stability 

APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors remain relatively stable, increasing by 1.2% year-on-year. This figure is characterised by notable fluctuations in terms of sector, with engineering and finance, for example, recording uplifts of 9.3% and 4.1% respectively. This average rise in remuneration is mirrored by statistics from ONS which reported that average earnings, excluding bonuses, grew at an annual rate of 1.6% in the three months to January 2015.

Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, commented, “As we predicted earlier this year, uncertainty in the run up to the general election, and any associated impact on policy, seems to have temporarily dampened activity as organisations put the brakes on hiring to wait for greater stability. Despite this month-on-month blip however, we are not surprised that professional recruitment levels remain high.”

Contract vacancies remain resilient  

Temporary and contract vacancies remain strong across the professional staffing market with opportunities up by 4.4% across the board year-on-year. Temporary vacancies across finance & accounting and media & marketing are particularly strong (increasing by 1.5% and 9% respectively). These figures follow analysis from the Bank of England which found that the UK self-employment boom is largely the result of structural shifts in the workforce as ageing professionals, and women in particular, have become self-employed in search of more flexible hours.

Swain added, “Contract vacancy rates no longer directly correlate with the number of permanent positions. A record 15% of the UK workforce is now self-employed, which is a sign of our nation’s desire for flexibility, driven by entrepreneurial spirit. George Osborne’s Budget announcement that class 2 national insurance contributions will be scrapped for self-employed professionals in the next parliament indicates further Government support for contractors, which, it is worth mentioning, account for a third of the growth in employment since 2010.”  



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