Demand for staff continues to rise at start of year, REC reveals
The IHS Markit/REC Report on Jobs for January 2018 has been released.
Recruitment consultants signalled a marked rise in permanent staff placements in January, with the rate of expansion the joint-steepest since April 2015. In contrast, growth in temp billings softened to a ten-month low, but was sharp overall.
Overall demand for staff continued to rise sharply in January, despite growth of demand softening to a 13-month low. Notably, both permanent and temporary staff vacancies continued to rise at historically marked rates.
Starting salaries for successful permanent candidates increased at the fastest pace for over two-and-a-half years at the start of 2018. Meanwhile, growth in temp pay eased to the joint-weakest in ten months, but remained sharp overall.
The number of candidates available to fulfil permanent and temporary roles continued to contract at historically sharp rates in January. This was despite rates of contraction softening slightly in both cases compared to December.
Data broken down by region showed that the North of England saw the fastest increase in permanent placements, though rates of growth were also sharp in the other four monitored regions.
The Midlands saw by far the quickest increase in temp billings, while growth was also sharp in the North and South of England and London. Meanwhile, Scotland registered a modest upturn following a reduction in December.
Stronger demand for staff was led by the private sector in January, according to latest survey data.
In the private sector, permanent staff vacancies rose at a sharp and accelerated pace in January. Demand for temporary workers across the private sector also rose strongly, despite growth softening since December. Meanwhile, permanent staff vacancies stagnated in the public sector, and the number of temporary staff roles declined slightly.
All nine types of permanent jobs monitored by the survey saw improved levels of demand for staff at the start of 2018. IT & computing led the overall rankings, following closely by engineering and accounting/financial.
Hotel & catering was the most in-demand category for temporary/contract staff in January. Growth of demand was also sharp for blue collar and nursing/medical/care workers. Construction registered the softest increase in vacancies.
Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive, said, “We are seeing a continued rise in jobs filled via recruiters as it gets more challenging for businesses to find candidates. The UK has almost full employment and the country is plagued by labour, skills and talent shortages. This increasing competition for good quality staff is driving up starting salaries with employers willing to pay higher wages to attract the right people. So, it’s a good time to move jobs, especially as employers aren’t increasing wages for their existing workforce.
“It’s reassuring that demand for permanent staff remains strong despite the economic uncertainties. However, there is a slight slowdown in the growth of temporary placements. This could be an early sign that employers are hesitating.
“The struggle to find appropriate candidates will get worse. We are therefore asking for a balanced and evidence-based immigration system. Businesses urgently need to invest in the upskilling of their workforce. The government can help by turning the Apprenticeship Levy into a broader training levy. It’s time they put the concerns of UK businesses at the top of their agenda.”
Matt Weston, director at Robert Half UK, commented, “The skills shortage continues to be felt industry-wide and is a trend that is likely to continue into the foreseeable future. With finance automation, changing regulations and a driving need for greater efficiencies, firms are focused on attracting and holding onto top talent. In a bid to attract highly skilled professionals, many financial services firms plan to prioritise salary increases and bonus payments tied to performance over standard benefits this year.”
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