Professional recruitment firms reported that overall vacancy numbers for permanent roles increased by 1% year-on-year in June 2017, while placements climbed by 4% during the same period, according to new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies APSCo.
APSCo’s data, which focuses on professional recruitment, reveals notable variations between the trade association’s core sector groups in terms of hiring activity. While permanent vacancies across both finance and engineering, for example, have increased (by 10% and 3% respectively) permanent vacancies within IT slipped by 6%.
Vacancies for professional contractors decreased by 12% across the board year-on-year, with demand falling across every core sector group.
IT sector stumbles
Demand for permanent professionals within the IT sector dipped by 6% year-on-year in July 2017, with vacancies for contractors to work in this area decreasing by 12% over the same period. The number of IT contractors on assignment also fell by 21% year-on-year, although permanent placements remained stable, dipping by just 0.3%.
This comes at a time when major employers including HSBC and RBS have announced that they are shedding scores of IT contractors in the UK to ensure they remain efficient in uncertain times. RBS alone is cutting its temporary IT workforce by 65% in the UK by moving its IT function to India.
Average salaries dip
APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors dipped by 1.6% in July 2017. This figure is characterised by notable fluctuations in terms of sector, with engineering, financial services, and construction all recording uplifts (of 2.7%, 4.9% and 3.4% respectively).
Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo comments:
“While the UK economy remains strong, there are subtle signs that the next year may be a bumpy ride with ups and down. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), for example, has revised its growth forecast for the UK, saying that it now expects the country’s economy to grow by 1.7% this year compared to a previous forecast of 2%, and consumer spending fell for a third consecutive month in July.”
“The strength of the UK economy relies on its flexibility, which is why it is unsurprising that demand for contractors is stalling against this backdrop. Fluctuations in demand for IT contractors, for example, suggest that businesses are taking a strategic and measured approach to staffing to ensure long-term stability, which is reflected in the fact that permanent placements remain strong across the board.”
John Nurthen for Staffing Industry Analysts, which compiles the report for APSCo, says:
“Unusually, we are seeing continuing deterioration in both the demand and supply for IT professionals at a time when permanent and flexible jobs in Engineering and Finance are doing well. This contrast suggests that general economic and Brexit trends are being experienced in quite diverse ways across the UK jobs market.”