The number of people placed in permanent jobs by recruitment consultants continued to rise in April. Moreover, the rate of expansion quickened to an eight-month high. This reflected a stronger increase in demand for staff, with permanent vacancies rising at the fastest pace since October 2014. Agencies’ short-term staff billings increased further in April, but the latest rise was the slowest in six months. This corresponded with a moderation in the rate of growth of demand for temporary/contract staff to the least marked since January. Growth of permanent staff salaries accelerated to a nine-month high in April, with panellists highlighting a combination of strong demand and skill shortages. Hourly rates of pay for temporary/contract staff meanwhile increased at the fastest pace since July 2007. amid tight candidate availability.
The availability of staff to fill permanent roles deteriorated further in April, with the rate of contraction accelerating to the sharpest in five months. Temporary/contract staff availability meanwhile declined at a marked pace that was similar to that seen in March. Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG, comments: “There has been a resurgence of recruitment into Britain’s boardrooms, with businesses poaching top talent to drive their companies forward. This surge of executive hires is a strong indication of underlying business sentiment and their ambitions for the future. “However, while the highest paid are benefiting from the recovery, demand for permanent staff remains more muted in the manufacturing sector. This section of the market is often the first to stall in tough economic conditions and the last to recover, emphasising the divergent fortunes facing job seekers in today’s market. The declining pool of available labour continues to force pay up. With two in five recruiters in the UK reporting falling candidate availability, spiralling salary growth remains a concern as businesses bid against each other to secure skilled staff.”
In a reversal of the trend seen in recent months, London saw the sharpest growth of permanent placements during April, while the slowest expansion was seen in the Midlands.
The Midlands remained the strongest-performing region for temp billings in April, with the slowest growth indicated in the North. Private sector demand for staff continued to rise at a stronger pace than that for public sector workers in April. The fastest rate of growth overall was signalled for private sector permanent employees. Executive/Professional was the most in-demand category for permanent staff in April, with Accounting/Financial in second place. The slowest growth was signalled for Hotel & Catering workers. Nursing/Medical/Care led a broad-based expansion in demand for short-term staff during April. Secretarial/Clerical workers saw the next-strongest rise in demand, ahead of Blue Collar staff.
Kevin Green, REC chief executive, says: “We urge the new government, whatever its complexion, to start to tackle the UK’s looming jobs crisis. “For the last two and a half years we’ve seen month on month increases in the amount of people getting permanent roles. We’ve also seen higher numbers of vacancies being posted by businesses as they seek to capitalise on increased demand. This is good for job seekers, because we continue to see starting salaries increase as employers compete for talent. However we question how sustainable this jobs boom is as skill and talent shortages become rife. The availability of staff has been falling for two years, with 40 per cent of recruiters saying that the situation is getting worse month on month. Our new government needs to get to grips with this crisis by improving vocational education, providing quality careers advice for all, and ensuring a sensible approach to immigration to help business find the skills they need to compete and win.”