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Although the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently reported healthier employment figures, there were fewer professional vacancies up for grabs in December. The latest monthly hiring trends by Staffing Industry Analysts and the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) found that both temporary and permanent vacancies fell by -7% and -8% respectively.
The IT sector suffered the biggest drop in professional vacancies, posting a -12% fall in December. But, while the number of vacancies fell, the number of professionals placed in temporary jobs did improve by +5 % in December, particularly across the marketing & media sector (+9%) and IT (+7%).
This rise in temporary placements directly correlates with the drop in permanent placements, which fell by -2% in the month.
APSCo chief executive, Ann Swain, said that employers lack confidence investing in permanent hires against a backdrop of on-going uncertainty. But, she said, the services sector in the UK recently returned to growth, which could improve hiring prospects in the first quarter of 2013.
John Nurthen, Executive Director at Staffing Industry Analysts, does not expect an improvement of the job market until the summer. “In light of the weaker economic figures that came through at the end of last year, it is not at all surprising to see that demand for professional hires is soft,” he said.
“We do not believe that we’ll see much improvement until the summer at the earliest but the UK economy, and those of its main trading partners, remains fragile and a pick-up in the latter half of the year is by no means guaranteed.”