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Professional hiring up 6% with financial services leading the way

This is in line with the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which reveals that overall employment levels increased by 177,000 in the three months to September.  

Finance & accounting sectors driving growth 

The latest data from APSCo reveals that growth in the professional recruitment market continues to climb across many of the trade association’s core sector groups. Permanent vacancies across finance & accounting, and media & marketing are all up year-on-year (16%, and 2% respectively). This positive sentiment is in line with recent reports that UK exports and business investment made the biggest contribution to the country’s growth in four years. Official figures also show that living standards have returned to pre-crisis levels.  

The continued boom of the financial and accounting sectors is mirrored by the latest report from recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley which found that the number of new vacancies in financial services in London rose by 7% in October 2015. A second report, from the British Bankers’ Association, has highlighted that provincial & lsquo;hotspots’ within 77 local authorities have become regional banking hubs, accounting for faster growth in banking jobs than London itself.    

Salaries in professional jobs outpacing lower-skilled jobs

APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors continue to hold steady with a light increase of 4.3% year-on-year. This figure is characterised by notable fluctuations in terms of sector, with banking and financial services, for example, recording uplifts of 18.5% and 10.8% respectively. This steady uplift in remuneration within the professional arena exceeds the national increase in salaries as reported by the ONS which found that average earnings grew at an annual rate of 2.5% in the three months to September 2015.

John Nurthen, executive director, Global Research for Staffing Industry Analysts, which compiles the report for APSCo, commented, “Following increasing demand from clients in 2014, permanent vacancies in 2015 have held up at a fairly constant rate rather than accelerated. Professional staffing firms have therefore enjoyed a relatively benign and stable market over the past few months and will be hoping this continues through to 2016”. Finance & accounting easily remains the stand-out sector while engineering and social work were the weakest. IT, with permanent vacancy growth of only 1% remains rather lacklustre having peaked at the beginning of the year. The current job market seems to be firing on some cylinders, if not quite all of them.”

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo commented, “Growth in employment levels show no sign of slowing as a strong economy, market confidence and inward migration contribute to record numbers of people in work. Our members are reporting unprecedented demand for specialists to work across a variety of sectors, with financial services showing the highest levels of demand.”    

“The fact that banking roles are increasing outside of the capital is in line with what many of our members are telling us, as financial services companies increasingly look to establish business in regions across the UK.”  

“Particularly within the professional sectors, pay continues to steadily increase as organisations fight for top talent amidst a wave of sector shortages. The fact that inflation has now been close to zero for nine consecutive months, means that pay growth in real terms is even higher than the statistics, at first glance, suggest.”      

Contract vacancies remain stable

Temporary and contract vacancies remain stable across the professional staffing market with opportunities up by 2% year-on-year. Vacancies within finance and accounting were particularly strong, increasing significantly by 34%.

Swain added, “Contract vacancies are consistently strong, despite a continual increase in permanent roles, as organisations continue to capitalise on the benefits of a flexible workforce. According to recent ONS figures, the number of self-employed rose by 30,000 year-on-year in the three months to September, and the recruitment profession is adapting the way it works to reflect this. Whereas historically, many organisations may have thought of temporary workers as people to hold the fort during an absence, the reality is that the professional flexible workforce is now & lsquo;the new normal’ – a trend that we predict will continue into 2016.” 

“Vacancies within finance and accounting are particularly high as financial institutions bring on board niche skill-sets on a project basis to manage change. The migration of talent to outside of London by institutions such as HSBC, coupled with legislative changes such as retail operation ring-fencing, mean that the demand for talent is outstripping availability. News that Barclays has promoted an executive with a reputation for cutting costs to a top position at its investment bank is indicative of a shift within the sector to realign workforces so that they are fit for purpose. This, of course, is having a heavy and immediate impact on demand for contractors, which we expect will continue for the coming months.”


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