Vacancies down 6% but digital bucking the trend
This dip in demand for professional talent can largely be attributed to market uncertainty in the weeks preceding the General Election. This pre-election slowdown is also reflected in the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures from the National Office for Statistics (ONS) which reveal that inflation turned negative in April for the first time since 1960.
Despite this overall fall in vacancy numbers, demand within the public sector rose by 2% as NHS trusts began the new financial year by prioritising making long-term cost savings to aid future efficiency. This has created exceptional demand for financial accountants, procurement consultants and contract managers who are being drafted in on a contract basis to analyse current processes and oversee the implementation of more streamlined systems.
Jodie Finn, associate director of Venn Group, commented, “Taking into account the uncertainty surrounding the run up to the General Election, and the associated impact any change of government would have had on legislation it’s unsurprising that vacancy numbers dipped in the weeks before the result was announced. However, we are already witnessing a jump in hiring activity following the announcement that Cameron has secured a second term.
“Contract vacancy numbers remained strong within the NHS as London trusts brought on board expert talent in an effort to drive efficiencies in line with the Government’s NHS Five Year Forward View. Consequently, we are currently experiencing a shortage of informatics specialists to implement systems to manage, analyse and integrate the vast amount of data the health service holds. There is particular demand for freshly qualified, ambitious candidates who have an up-to-the-minute understanding of the possibilities associated with big data. In response to this skills gap, NHS England is developing apprenticeship schemes across the country to pipeline future talent.”
Rates hold steady despite slowdown
There was an average rate reduction for those securing new assignments in April 2015 of 1% with professional contractors now commanding an average day rate of £276.
Digital revolution boosts demand for content developers
Across the private sector, the Recruitment Index reveals that, despite pre-election caution, there has been a continual rise in demand for digital talent. After years of austerity, businesses are heavily investing in digital contractors to optimise their online presence. There is currently unprecedented demand for experienced online content editors and digital content developers to manage the implementation and improvement of cross-channel strategies. Professionals with a good working knowledge of open source content management system (CMS) Umbraco are particularly sought after.
This demand is mirrored in the rates that these professionals are currently commanding, with digital designers receiving up to £300 a day, and experienced front end developers making in excess of £630 a day.
Finn continues, “The digital skills gap facing the UK labour market has been well documented. Indeed, the European Commission (EC) has warned that the continent faces an 800,000 shortfall in skilled ICT workers by 2020. According to a recent report from The Business Growth Fund and Barclays, London is home to Europe's fastest growing tech cluster, with 27% of all job growth in London generated by the tech and digital sector. Against this backdrop, it is no surprise that businesses are competing for the very best talent, and willing to invest heavily in candidates with the right skills and experience.
“Looking forward, the signs are positive that job creation in the capital is beginning to climb. The value of sterling has soared in the weeks following the election, and the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 indices of major London-listed stocks gained 2.3% and 2.8% respectively the day after the election to add £50bn to the market value of the constituent companies. We are already seeing this confidence translate into an increase in vacancies as organisations capitalise on this greater stability by investing in future growth and productivity.”