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UK – Employment prospects in commerce and industry up, but public sector suffers

16 September 2013

Demand for staff within the private sector increased by +69% between Q1 2013 and Q2 2013, however, a new report from the Venn Group suggests that temporary vacancies throughout the public sector dipped by -24% during the same period.

According to the report, the number of vacancies within commerce and industry is climbing rapidly thanks to increasing activity across the regions as confidence returns to markets outside of London. 

The fall in vacancies within the public sector can largely be attributed to the completion of the transition from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) within the NHS. The switchover created unprecedented demand for contract and interim professionals during the 12 months to April 2013.

Across the UK as a whole, overall employment levels remain stable. Vacancies dipped by just -1.2% between Q1 2013 and Q2 2013, as the UK economy grew by +0.6%.

The Venn Group has just launched the fifth edition of its quarterly report - the Venn Index – offering an overview of vacancy levels, average pay and in-demand skills across the UK.

Professional contract and interim employment opportunities within commerce and industry across the UK have increased significantly after levelling out last quarter. Vacancies rose by +69% between quarter one and quarter two this year, and national levels now sit +18% higher than Q2 2012.

In London, vacancies in commerce and industry are up +26% against those recorded during Q1 2013. This represents a +51% decrease when compared to Q2 2012, but this can be explained by an unprecedented boom in early 2012 as companies ramped up in preparation for the Olympics.

After months of contraction, contract and interim employment levels within financial services seem to be stabilising with vacancies up +3.4% since Q1. Despite the fact that employment levels in the City are still down -67% on the same period in 2012, this increase points towards positive sentiment in the sector – an early indicator of long-term recovery.

As predicted in the last edition of the Index, the professional contract and interim market within the public sector has now begun to contract after the high levels of activity experienced throughout the transition from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) within the NHS.

Across the UK, vacancies within the public sector have dipped by -24% between Q1 2013 and Q2 2013. Employment levels now sit at -14% below those recorded during the same period last year when PCTs were ramping up in preparation for transition, but this was not unexpected. 

Commenting on the results of the report, Robert Bowyer, Director of Venn Group says: “As predicted in the last edition of the Venn Index, the economy continues to show signs of stability and professional contract and interim employment levels in the UK remain strong. Between quarter one 2012 and quarter two 2013 vacancies across the UK dipped by -8.8%, but this can in part be attributed to a sharp decrease in recruitment activity within the NHS following the CCG switchover.”

“Greater stability in Europe will, no doubt, continue to have a positive impact on confidence in the UK economy. Last month the European statistics agency, Eurostat, reported that the output of the 17-member single currency bloc grew by 0.3 per cent in the second three months of this year, bringing to an end six quarters of shrinking gross domestic product. Further positive sentiment has been generated by the fact that official statistics show that the rate of unemployment in the UK dropped to 7.7% between May and July from 7.8% in the previous three months,” he continued.

“Furthermore, the British Chamber of Commerce has released data that shows UK export activity has reached levels not seen since the financial crisis. 42% of manufacturing firms reported higher export sales during the second quarter when compared to last year, and 31% of firms expect to increase staff in 2013. This is strengthened by data from the CBI that found manufacturing activity in the UK surged to a two-year high in the three months to August.”

Mr Bowyer concluded: “For these reasons, we predict that contract and interim employment levels will increase to rise during the latter months of this year and into 2014. This heightened demand will be driven by growth in the private sector, as UK based organisations take advantage of improving economic conditions throughout Europe and beyond.”

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