Demand for contractors in financial services falls
Professional recruitment firms reported that overall vacancy numbers for permanent roles dipped by 1% in February 2017, while demand for contractors decreased by 9% year-on-year, according to new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).
APSCo’s data, which focuses on professional recruitment, reveals notable variations between the trade association’s core sector groups in terms of hiring activity. While permanent vacancies across both finance and engineering, for example, have increased marginally (both by 1%), permanent placements within IT slipped by 7%.
Vacancies for professional contactors decreased by 9% across the board year-on-year, with much of this activity attributed to a notable fall in the number of roles within financial services.
Despite the fact that permanent vacancies increased by 1% year-on-year in this sector, demand for contractors dropped by almost a quarter (23%) during the same period as investment banks in London finally begin to execute plans to uproot jobs from the City.
Demand for IT contractors has also decreased by 16%. This is despite the fact that a recent report from Tech Nation found that the British technology sector is growing faster than the UK economy, growing by 30% in just five years.
APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors dipped by 1.3% year-on-year. This figure is characterised by notable fluctuations in terms of sector, with IT, for example, recording an uplift of 1.3% while in banking average salaries were down 3.6% year-on-year.
Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, commented, “Amid the huge amount of uncertainty the UK is facing as the Prime Minister prepares to trigger Article 50, demand for talent remains incredibly strong. Despite predictions that the Brexit vote would decimate the jobs market, the fact that permanent vacancy numbers remain largely unchanged since early 2016 - a time when forecasts overwhelmingly predicted that the UK would remain inside Europe post referendum - is testament to the sheer strength and robustness of the UK economy.
“While contractor placements actually increased by 3% in February, a decrease in contractor vacancies suggests that employers are now prioritising long-term workforce plans, rather than short term gap-plugging, as we enter the new financial year. This is most evident within financial services, where it is apparent that the recent frenzy of temporary hiring, which created a temporary boom in demand for contractors, has now subsided to be replaced with more stable hiring activity until employers have a firmer idea of their plans post-Brexit.”