The Markit/REC Report on Jobs provides the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies.
Permanent placements increase at softer pace
Latest data pointed to sustained growth in permanent placements during March. Although the pace of expansion eased from February’s one-year record, it was solid overall. Meanwhile, growth in temp billings picked up slightly from February’s four-month low and was sharper than seen on average in 2016.
Supply of candidates drops markedly
The supply of permanent candidates fell sharply in March, although the rate of reduction weakened slightly since February’s 13-month peak. The availability of short-term staff fell at a similarly sharp rate that was the quickest recorded since January 2016.
Salary growth remains sharp…
Permanent starting salaries continued to increase sharply in March, despite the rate of pay growth edging down slightly from an 11-month high in the previous month. However, temp pay growth weakened to a rate that, though solid, was the weakest since last November.
…as demand for staff holds close to 18-month peak
March saw a further steep increase in job vacancies across the UK, with growth of demand for staff holding close an 18-month record. Permanent staff vacancies increased at a rate only fractionally slower than the previous month, while demand for short-term staff also remained robust.
Regional and sector variation
All monitored UK regions registered growth in permanent placements, with the South and the North of England noting the sharpest rates of expansion.
The North of England and Scotland both reported the sharpest expansions in temp billings, while the weakest was seen in London.
Private sector demand for staff continued to rise at a stronger pace than that for public sector workers at the end of the first quarter. Despite weakening since February, growth in private sector permanent vacancies remained sharp, while demand for temp staff in the sector also rose solidly.
In contrast, permanent staff vacancies in the public sector declined for the first time since last October, albeit marginally. Meanwhile, public sector temporary staff demand rose only modestly.
IT & Computing led a broad-based expansion in demand for permanent staff in March, closely followed by Nursing/Medical/Care. The slowest growth was signalled for Construction workers.
Demand for temporary/contract workers increased across all monitored categories. The sharpest rates of growth were seen in Nursing/Medical/Care and Blue Collar. Executive/Professional meanwhile saw the weakest increase.
REC Chief Executive Kevin Green says:
“Finding people to do the jobs on offer is rapidly becoming employers’ biggest headache and many are reporting an increasing number of white collar jobs as hard to fill, including in the IT and financial sectors.
“Shortages of appropriately skilled, willing and able candidates was a problem before the referendum. Our concern is that Brexit will make the problem worse, particularly if onerous restrictions are imposed on people coming from the EU to work.
“Also, economic uncertainty about future prospects is having a detrimental effect on employees’ willingness to risk a career move at this time, which seems to be driving down candidate availability. Our data shows London and the South, where financial services jobs are concentrated, as particularly suffering from low candidate availability for permanent job vacancies.
“This shrinking talent pool of available candidates means that businesses are boosting the starting salaries and hourly rates they are prepared to offer to the right candidate. So for job hunters willing to move roles at the moment, there are financial rewards on offer – especially it seems in finance, IT and other management and office-based professional roles.”
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