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Report on Jobs: Demand for Staff Reaches 21-Month Peak


The Markit/REC Report on Jobs – published today – provides the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies.

Sharpest increase in staff appointments for over two years…

May survey data highlighted a sharp and accelerated increase in permanent staff placements across the UK. Furthermore, the rate of expansion was the fastest for 25 months. Temp billings also rose at a steeper pace, and recorded the strongest rate of growth since March 2015.

…supported by marked increase in demand for staff

The availability of permanent and temporary candidates declined at sharper rates in April, with the former posting the quicker pace of reduction. Notably, both categories saw the steepest deteriorations in candidate availability for 16 months.

Candidate numbers continue to decline sharply…

The availability of staff to fill vacancies continued to decline during May. While the number of candidates for permanent roles dropped at the quickest pace since August 2015, the deterioration in temporary candidate availability softened slightly since April.

…leading to further robust increase in salaries

Average starting salaries for people placed into permanent jobs increased at the quickest rate in three months during May. Hourly rates of pay for temporary/contract staff also rose sharply, despite the rate of growth softening since April.

Regional variation

All monitored UK regions registered growth in permanent placements in May, led by the South of England and London.

The Midlands recorded the fastest increase in temp billings in May, followed by the North. The slowest rate of expansion was reported in the South of England.

Sector variation

Demand for staff across the private sector remained robust in May. Although, demand for permanent staff across the private sector softened slightly since April, growth remained robust overall. In contrast, the number of temporary vacancies in the private sector rose at a slightly quicker pace than seen in April.

May data indicated greater demand for permanent and short-term staff in the public sector. Furthermore, the increase in demand for temporary staff in the sector was the strongest seen since July 2015. Meanwhile, the number of permanent job vacancies increased for the first time in three months and at a solid pace.

Latest data indicated that demand for permanent staff increased across all monitored jobs categories in May. Engineering held its top place in the league table, followed closely by Nursing/Medical/Care. The slowest, albeit still sharp, increase in demand was seen for construction workers.

Nursing/Medical/Care employees were the most in-demand type of short-term staff in May. Nonetheless, steep rates of demand growth were recorded across all remaining job categories.

Tom Hadley, REC Director of Policy says:

“The challenges facing the next government are stark. Demand for staff is the strongest in almost two years, but the number of people available to take those jobs has plummeted. Official data shows unemployment has dropped to the lowest level since 1975, and EU citizens are leaving the UK in droves. Employers seeking to fill vacancies are running out of options.

“Skill shortages are causing headaches in many sectors. The NHS for example is becoming increasingly reliant on short-term cover to fill gaps in hospital rotas because there aren’t enough nurses to take permanent roles. Meanwhile, the shortage of people with cyber security skills is a particular concern in many businesses in the wake of the recent high-profile WannaCry attacks.

“Whichever party forms the next government must focus on improving the employability of our young people and boosting inclusion for underrepresented groups. Alongside this, these figures clearly show that in many sectors we need more, not fewer people so that businesses can grow and public services continue to deliver.”       

Full reports and historical data from the Report on Jobs are available by subscription. Please contact [email protected]