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UK – Public Sector temporary staffing down sharply

10 May 2012

Across the public sector temporary employment decreased by -15.2% in the first quarter of 2012 when compared to a year ago and especially young people have been affected by this trend. The North East saw the biggest drop in temporary recruitment at -127.3%, followed closely by the West Midlands (-115.9%) while London saw a drop of -25.5% in the use of temporary staff among Local Authorities.

The latest Government Index by Comensura, part of the staffing firm Impellam, also shows that pay for temporary workers has increased which is in part due to the implementation of the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR). Across the board there was an average 8.9% increase in hourly pay rates.

“The decrease in temporary employment in the North East and West Midlands is reflected within the wider UK employment figures. Local Authorities have made a real and concerted effort to reduce the amount spent on temporary labour,” said Jamie Horton, Managing Director at Comensura.

Young people were especially affected by the reduction in temporary employment as in the first quarter of 2012, the number of 25-34 year-olds employed on a temporary basis dropped by -35.4% when compared to the same time last year.

“Whilst there is better planning of workforce needs to ensure resources are spent in the right areas, the numbers of young people joining the workforce should be a concern for local authorities as they plan for the future,” said Mr Horton.

“Looking forward, the decrease in usage of temporary labour is expected to continue. Local Authorities and other public bodies are increasingly gaining greater control of expenditure on temporary labour by implementing control methods to manage their expenditure in this area.”

Temporary labour dropped in driving and transportation roles by -39%, followed by IT roles (-29.2%), and engineering/technical positions (-26.9). However, the construction industry has seen a +20.5% increase in temporary staffing, which could show “some green shoots of recovery for the economy”, Comensura said.

Both men and women were affected by the reduction in temporary labour, but women fared slightly better and now account for 45.3% of all public sector temporary labour, up from 44.9% a year ago. This was due to a lower than expected decline in the number of office/admin workers, a job category that accounts for almost 20% of all temporary workers and where women represent 70% of all temporary labour. 

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