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UK – Growth in temporary work easing

07 March 2014

While the creation of permanent placement continued to pick up steam in February, growth in temporary billings started to ease, according to the latest Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG.

Recruitment consultants signalled the fastest growth of permanent staff appointments in almost four years. However, temporary staff billings increased at the slowest pace in three months. Following on from the 15-and-a-half year high in vacancy demand reported in January, data from February indicated a further market rise in vacancies, only marginally below the level in January.

Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG, commented: “Working Britain appears to be suffering from a clash of confidence. With permanent appointments rising at the strongest rate for almost four years, employers appear determined to show they are secure enough to make long-term commitments. Candidates, on the other hand, are less certain, preferring to stay put than advance their careers in a new environment.”

“Those in the North are recruiting hardest and fastest, and even the slowest area - in London – is seeing a marked increase. The hope now must be that employees and employers rethink their approach and the clash of confidence is replaced by a meeting of minds,” Mr Brown concluded.

Pay for temporary staff increased at the fastest pace since July 2013, while permanent salaries reached their highest rate in more than six years.

The availability of staff declined in February, particularly for permanent candidates, who fell at the sharpest rate recorded since November 2004. Growth of permanent placements was strongest in the North of England during the latest survey period, while London posted the slowest, but still marked, increase. 

Midlands-based recruitment agencies signalled the strongest increase in temporary billings during February, while growth was slowest in the South.

Private sector demand for permanent staff rose at a steep rate in February, with the latest increase the sharpest since data were first available in December 2011. Private sector demand for temporary staff also grew at a series-record pace.

The most in demand temporary/contract staff during February were in the Nursing/Medical/Care sector, followed by Blue Collar workers and Secretarial/Clerical workers.

Engineering workers were the most in-demand staff in February, with Construction and Nursing/Medical/Care also registering strong rates of growth. The slowest rise in demand was indicated for Blue Collar workers.

Kevin Green, CEO of the REC, added: “This month’s figures show the second highest ever results in permanent placements since Report on Jobs began in 1997. The positive trend of rising vacancies continues and this is supported by our JobsOutlook data on employers’ hiring intentions that shows businesses will be taking on more workers in 2014 as their confidence grows.”

“However the number of candidates available to fill vacancies continues to fall and this is becoming a business critical issue in highly skilled roles. Recruiters are struggling to source the managerial and technical skills that employers require and this will only get worse as the economy strengthens.”

“Negative rhetoric on immigration from politicians fails to consider the immediate needs of British businesses. The government must address the restrictions on visas for highly skilled workers. This would allow businesses to access the people they need to grow and create jobs for more British workers,” Mr Green advised. 

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