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Report On Jobs: Candidate availability sees the quickest expansion for two-and-a-half years

The KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs uniquely provides the most comprehensive guide to the labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies, such as Redline Group, and employers to provide the first indication each month of labour market trends. Here are the main findings from July’s report.


  • Candidate availability rose sharply. 
  • Starting salaries and contract / temporary billings saw a marked increase.
  • Vacancies continued to rise.

June survey data showed candidate availability improvement for the fourth straight month. However, vacancies also continued to expand for both contract/temporary and permanent roles prompted by the rising cost of living and competition for skilled staff, starting salaries, and contractors hourly rates continued to rise. 

Reduction in Staff Appointments and Rise in Vacancies:

A reduction in permanent staff appointments was noted across the UK in June. Recruiters mainly linked this to uncertainty over the economic outlook and a subsequent slowdown in some hiring activity, with recruitment freezes and delays around decision-making often noted. Speaking about this, Claire Warnes, Partner, Skills, and Productivity at KPMG UK said: “The sharp upturn in candidate availability this month – the highest for two and a half years – is a big concern for the economy reflecting the effects of a sustained slowdown in recruitment”

However, the demand for staff continued to rise across both the private and public sectors within the permanent and contract/temporary businesses at the end of the second quarter. Latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that overall, UK vacancies continued to drift lower, but remained in excess of 1 million and historically high.

Eight of the ten monitored job categories registered an increase in permanent and contract/temporary staff demand in June. Engineering saw the fourth highest increase in permanent vacancies and fifth highest in temporary/contract vacancies. Skill shortages were seen in electrical and mechanical engineering, electronics design, software developers and cyber security specialists. Contractor demand continued in most IT areas, especially software development.

Increase in Billings:

The average starting salaries awarded to permanent employees across the UK continued to increase. Based on survey reports, the rising cost of living and skilled candidate shortages had led firms to raise starting salaries. However, despite being sharp overall, the rate of inflation softened for the second month in a row and was the least pronounced since April 2021. Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive, said: “There was a significant step up in the number of candidates looking for a new permanent or temporary/contract role. This is likely driven by people reacting to high inflation by stepping up their job search and by some firms reshaping their businesses in a period of low growth.” 

Temporary/contract billings have now expanded in each of the past 35 months. Firmer demand for contract/temp staff was cited as the major driver for the latest upturn in billings, with recruiters citing a number of clients who showed a preference for flexible workforces due to the prevailing economic climate.

Future Outlook:

Inflation, along with the measures to stifle it, as well as ongoing industrial action and labour shortages, are making it harder to forecast wages . This is because starting salaries have risen for permanent staff for the 28th successive month in June, with pay inflation for temps/contracts also stretching to a 28-month run, according to the latest Report on Jobs data. And as the ONS reports that average total pay for employees (which includes bonuses) rose by 6.5% in February to April 2023, and average regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 7.2%. The point to note, however, is that after adjusting for inflation, real-term total pay fell by 2.0%, and real-term regular pay (minus any bonuses) fell by 1.3%.

Overall, it is a good time to be looking for work and to ask for higher pay. In recent years, skills and labour shortages have played into high vacancies. However, it’s worth remembering that in recent times, higher vacancies and job adverts have been attributed to a general slowdown in hiring activity and delayed decision-making from companies amid ongoing economic uncertainty.

Redline Group changes lives every day, building world-class teams for technology companies. We continue to be one of the UK’s most trusted Electronics and High Technology recruitment specialists for professional Contract, Permanent and Executive positions. With four decades of experience our passionate, knowledge-led people create trusted recruitment solutions, Redline is perfectly positioned to offer advice about future-proofing your permanent, contract and interim needs in the technology sector. 

For more information about this month's report, contact David Collins on or call him at 01582 878804.


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