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White collar vacancies have begun to stabilise

Ann Swain - APSCo

Following record months of hiring, the recruitment market is showing signs of stabilising, with permanent and contract vacancies dropping slightly month on month. That’s according to the latest Recruitment Trends Snapshot report*.

The data, provided by growth analytics experts cube19, revealed a 4% drop in permanent jobs month on month in October, with contract vacancies also down 3%. This is indicative of the labour market starting to level out after months of hiring spikes with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting vacancies had exceeded one million for the first time on record between June and August.

Despite this slight dip, annual comparisons continue to rise, with vacancies for permanent and contract roles up 33% and 57% respectively when compared to October 2020.

APSCo’s data also revealed an uptick in placements across permanent roles annually, rising 70% when compared to October last year. This is largely indicative of the impact of the furlough scheme which was still in place this time last year, reducing the hiring activity across the UK.

While contract vacancies are down month on month, annual revenue statistics paint a promising picture for staffing companies, with revenue up 66% from permanent placements and 86% from contract placements when compared to the figures from October last year. This is further evidenced in APSCo’s latest UK Recruitment Index – produced in conjunction with Saffery Champness – which revealed that all staffing firms surveyed remain positive about their financial stability. Respondents indicted that they believed they had sufficient cash flows compared to last year, despite the ending of the furlough scheme and the upcoming need to pay deferred VAT and PAYE payments post-Covid

Commenting on the data Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo said: “While on paper the slight drop in vacancy numbers may appear to be a negative, in the unique recruitment environment we’re experiencing this is, in fact, a welcome reprieve. We’ve seen hiring bounce back at a record pace this year following the impact of Covid in 2020 which has exacerbated skills shortages and created a highly competitive market for the best resources which was simply unsustainable.

And with the annual comparisons revealing significant spikes in vacancies, placements and revenue, the staffing sector can rest assured that this slight dip isn’t a concern. As we enter the winter months and approach the usual seasonal dip, now is an opportunity for the staffing sector to catch its breath and prepare for what we expect to be a fantastic start to 2022.”

Joe McGuire, Chief Revenue Office at cube19 says: “Numbers will always fluctuate over time, the thing that stands out in this data is that even though some metrics have dipped slightly this month, they are still trending at near record highs. It is common to see relatively large seasonality dips through November and December but given recent demand, I will be watching closely to see if that trend is bucked this year.”

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