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Demand for professionals stumbles amid uncertain climate, APSCo reveals

Professional recruitment firms reported that demand for permanent talent fell by 4% year-on-year in January 2019 while vacancies for contingent workers decreased by 4% over the same period, according to new research  from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

Despite this overall decline in demand, APSCo’s data does reveal pockets of positivity, most notably within the financial services sector, where vacancies for contingent workers rose by 11% year-on-year in January 2019. This contrasts with demand for contract workers within engineering, which dropped by 22% during the same period.

This boom in non-permanent financial appointments comes amid uncertainty around the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world. However, this month,  The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Bank of England and UK watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have struck a deal to provide a “bridge over Brexit” and ensure financial stability.

Despite an overall dip in demand for talent, permanent placements increased by 2% year-on-year in January 2019. This overall strength can be attributed to a significant 12% increase in permanent placements within IT, where contract placements dipped by 13%.

While permanent placements increased 2% in the year to January 2019, the number of contractors out on assignment dipped by 6% during the same period. Use of contingent workers fell across every one of APSCo’s core sectors, with the exception of financial services where contractor levels increased by 12% year-on-year.  

APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors remained stable in January 2019, rising by 2.7% across the board. Average salaries within many of APSCo’s core sectors, however, increased more significantly. Within financial services, for example, average salaries rose by 4.6% year-on-year. In engineering, meanwhile, salaries are up by 4.1% over the same period.  

Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, commented, “In line with recent figures from the ONS - which showed a record number of people in work and employment at an all-time high - our members are reporting healthy placement levels. With the ongoing uncertainty around our exit from the EU, it remains to be seen whether this positivity will continue. However, for the time being at least, it seems to be business as usual.”

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