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In August, temporary staff billings increased for the first time in nine months with recruitment agencies reporting the fastest rise in the Midlands, a joint report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG shows today.
However, the increase in temporary billings was only “modest” while growth in London, the North and the South were marginal, the report found.
“Recruiters tell us the first rise in the placement of temp workers in nine months is because employers are calling on that flexibility offered by agency staff as a way to grow to meet recent increases in demand, like that seen last month in the service sector,” said REC chief executive Kevin Green.
“It’s also a sign that changes to Agency Worker Regulations last year have not resulted in any significant negative impact on the market for temporary labour as some predicted they would.”
In the month, demand for staff rose at a slightly faster pace for temporary workers than for permanent employees. The private sector showed rising demand for workers, particularly for those on short-term assignments. But temporary workers were most impacted by the continuous decline in public sector vacancies, seeing a sharper fall than for permanent workers.
Temporary workers were highly in demand in the nursing/medical/care sector, as well as the engineering/construction and IT & computing sector. Lowest demand for temporary staff was seen in accounting/financial roles, which was followed by hotel & catering jobs.
Recruiters also reported a further increase in the availability of temporary and contract workers, particularly in the North, although the latest rise was the slowest since May 2011. Pay rates for temporary workers were broadly flat in August, the report found.
The latest results give hope that the labour market may be on the route to recovery. The rise in temporary placements could also be a sign for employer confidence returning.
“With question marks still hanging over the long-term state of the economy, it would be easy to suggest that an upward curve in the jobs market is nothing more than a blip,” said Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG.
“But the truth is that, in some parts of the country, we are actually seeing a growth in the number of companies recruiting and where there is a decline it is now virtually insignificant. It may be slow, but perhaps we are witnessing the first signs of recovery?”
At the same time the latest jobs data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) and Staffing Industry Analysts showed that the professional jobs market slowed significantly this summer.
According to the report, professional vacancies in both the permanent and temporary sectors fell in August. But despite a widespread slowdown in the permanent market, the UK’s temporary recruitment sector remained one of the bright spots, seeing a +4% rise in temporary placements last month.