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Professional hiring up 2% year-on-year

Professional recruitment firms now have 2% more vacancies on their books than this time last year according to new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).


This is in line with the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which reveals that overall employment levels increased by 205,000 in the three months to December 2015, representing a record high employment rate of 74.1%.


The latest data from APSCo reveals that vacancies within the finance and accounting sectors continue to climb rapidly despite high profile job cuts in the City, with a 12% increase in permanent vacancies year-on-year. This increased demand for talent is in line with a recent report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills which found that the financial services sector now finds 21% of vacancies hard to fill as is struggles to compete with the tech sector for niche skill sets.


In contrast, APSCo’s data found that engineering vacancies have dipped by 12% year-on-year following a succession of cutbacks in the manufacturing sector which have resulted in over 5,000 job losses in the steel industry as well as at blue-chip engineers such as BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.


APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors continue to climb steadily, increasing by 4.2% year-on-year. This figure is characterised by notable fluctuations in terms of sector, with property and banking, for example, recording uplifts of 14.4% and 4.9% respectively. This rise 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% in the three months to December 2015.


Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, commented, “Once again, employment levels have continued to climb. In fact, the size of the UK workforce is now at an all-time record high. Despite widely publicised job losses at Lloyds, Barclays and Credit Suisse, the UK banking sector continues to perform well, not least because of an increase in opportunities in the regions. In fact, most people employed in the sector are now based outside the capital, with firms such as Merrill Lynch and Investec creating thousands of opportunities in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.


“While heavy job losses at firms such as Tata have had an inevitable impact on engineering vacancies, this is unlikely to have any effect on overall employment rates across the professional sectors. It may, however, mark the beginning of a systematic shift in the UK employment landscape, with the creation of fewer highly skilled roles in the manufacturing sector over the past 20 years as outlined by a recent study by Oxford University.


“The rate of salary growth across the professional sectors continues to outstrip that of the more general employment market as organisations bank on senior or specialist talent to facilitate future growth.”


Temporary and contract vacancies have increased across the professional staffing market with opportunities up by 6% year-on-year. Vacancies within finance and accounting were particularly strong, increasing by 10%, with IT and Engineering also recording uplifts of 7% and 1% respectively.


Swain added, “The number of self-employed people in the UK has swelled by over half a million since 2010, accounting for over a quarter of the growth in total employment during this time. There are now in excess of 4.6m professionals working on a self-employed basis, representing 15% of the UK workforce. This month saw the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) publish a review of self-employment, which called for changes to the taxation system, alongside more flexible financial solutions in areas such mortgages and pensions, and equal treatment for benefits like Maternity Allowance. Likewise, the recruitment profession is also responding to this structural change in the jobs market, as organisations and contractors alike reap the economic benefits of working on a flexible basis.”


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