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Temp continues to rise as perm declines

Following the usual dip in activity over Christmas, hiring for contract roles surged 42% in January but year-on-year permanent vacancies are down 28%, according to the latest monthly Recruitment Trends Snapshot report from APSCo. In comparison, contract vacancies are down by 11% year-on-year – a 5% improvement from December, when the drop was 16%.

Based on data by growth analytics platform cube19, the report also revealed that interview numbers increased by 18.5% in the last two weeks of January compared to the first two, suggesting that this uptick will translate into positive placement numbers in February.

“We are seeing higher value contract placements indicative of the increasing reliance on the professional contingent workforce as employers turn to agile and flexible hiring solutions in an uncertain market,” Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo.

Joe McGuire, Global Sales Director of cube19, added: “The number of new vacancies in January is very positive and this is in spite of The Bank of England reports that GDP is expected to fall by about 4% in Q1. They are also projecting that following this, there will be a rapid recovery toward pre-Covid levels throughout 2021 which means opportunity will continue to grow in our industry this year.”

REC: Job ads fall in February

In contrast, the REC reports that the number of active job adverts in the UK fell to 1.3 million in the first week of February, the lowest total since the last week of June, largely due to old ads expiring and being removed from sites. This was a fall of 3.1% from the last week of January, and 14.4% lower than the week of January 18-24.

On a more positive note, it also points out that there were 132,000 new job adverts posted in the first week of February, significantly more than the 92,000 posted in the last week of June – indicating that firms are more confident about bringing on new staff than they were even after the first wave of the pandemic.

REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry highlighted better opportunities for temp recruiters. “REC surveys suggest this is a pause that is likely to end as restrictions ease, with temporary hiring continuing to deliver opportunities to workers even as permanent roles are less common than before Christmas,” he said.

“The vaccine rollout means demand in the health sector remains high, and the construction industry is still hiring strongly as building sites remain open. There is a great deal of underlying confidence that when the lockdown measures are eased, firms will be able to bounce back strongly – and the

UK’s vibrant recruitment industry will have a vital role to play in accelerating the recovery.”

Vacancy increases by occupation
The occupation with the highest increase in active job adverts is dispensing opticians (+15.7%) and there is also increased demand for pharmacy and other dispensing assistants (+8.8%), according to the REC/Emsi Jobs Recovery Tracker.

A number of roles in the construction sector like bricklayers (+14.2%), town planning officers (+8.6%) and plasterers (+7.5%) saw a rise in adverts, while there is also increasing demand for special educational needs teachers, perhaps due to these children requiring more specialised attention with schools remaining shut.

The biggest falls in active job adverts are for conference and exhibition organisers (-21.7%) and fitness instructors (-20.8%) as no large events can take place and gyms remain closed. Less predictably, there is also a significant decrease in adverts for IT roles such as IT engineers (-14.1%), project and programme managers (-13.4%) and analysts, architects and systems designers (-13.0%).

“When we dig a little deeper into these numbers, we can see demand for key worker occupations remains strong – and there is relative growth in new demand across a number of technology and engineering-based professions,” commented Matthew Mee, Director, Workforce Intelligence at Emsi. “When we look purely at employers that are hiring (as opposed to recruiters), we can also see there seems to be some encouraging early signs of increased new postings activity across London and the South East.”

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