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Some uncertainty in the Jobs Market leads to increase in Contract/Temporary usage.

The Report on Jobs uniquely provides the most comprehensive guide to the UK 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 April's report.

Overview:

  • Candidate availability improved. 
  • Contract / temporary billings continued to grow.
  • Vacancies continued to rise.

April survey data showed sustained improvement in the availability of candidates. However, the demand for staff also continued to rise. The historically sharp rise in starting salaries for both permanent and contract/temporary workers was also a testament to the efforts being made to hire and retain quality candidates among economic instability and the cost-of-living crisis. 

Rise in Staff Availability and Vacancies:

Staff availability rose in March, the first time in just over two years, this continued to increase for a second month in a row in April. Higher permanent labour supply was attributed to an increase in job seekers due to redundancies and reduced hiring activity. There were also reports that some workers were applying for new roles to secure higher-salaried positions amid the rising cost of living. Speaking about this, Claire Warnes, Partner, Skills, and Productivity at KPMG UK said: “For businesses looking to hire there are some green shoots in candidate availability, as supply improved for the second month in a row. Starting rates of pay for both permanent and temporary positions are still rising at historically sharp rates, giving people an incentive to move roles.”

Vacancies, on the other hand, continued to increase across both the private and public sectors at the start of the second quarter. An accelerated rise was seen in contract/temp vacancies. The respective index rose notably from March's 26-month low and pointed to a sharp upturn in demand. Though the rate of vacancy growth edged down to a three-month low, demand for permanent workers also rose markedly.

All ten monitored job categories registered an increase in permanent and contract/temporary staff demand in April. Engineering topped the rankings in permanent vacancies, closely followed by Accounting and Finance. Skill shortages were focused on design engineering, software developers, data scientists and cyber security specialists. Contractor demand continued in most IT areas, especially software development.

Increase in Billings:

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that employee earnings growth (including bonuses) held steady at +5.9%. Linked to a preference for short-term staff over permanent workers due to lingering economic uncertainty, billings received from the employment of short-term staff increased again in April, stretching the current sequence of growth to 33 months. Average starting salaries for UK workers also increased during April, with the rate of pay growth improving to a four-month high and remaining sharp overall. The key driver of salary and rate inflation in the latest survey period was said to have been competition to attract and secure suitably skilled staff amidst the rising cost of living. Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive, said: “Wages are rising strongly for both temp/contract and new permanent hires in the face of inflation, even though candidate availability is finally starting to improve.”

Recruitment consultancies registered a further steep increase in the average salary for short-term staff at the beginning of the second quarter. The rate of wage inflation was the sharpest seen since January. Recruiters often linked higher average hourly pay rates to the shortages of skilled workers and a preference for temporary/contract hires over permanent staff amidst economic turbulence.

Future Outlook:

The UK labour market continues to perform strongly with employment rising and unemployment remaining low, despite the uncertain economic outlook. But while the workforce has expanded in recent months, the labour market remains tight as demand for staff stays above pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that employers are still having a difficult time hiring.

The defining features of the UK’s labour market are still skills shortages and economic inactivity. Addressing these will be vital to increase productivity and economic growth. The recent Spring Budget was right to put the challenge of labour availability at the heart of the UK growth story. But a lot more needs to be done to ensure sustainable growth, especially in skills reform and supporting those who want to work to return to the workforce.

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 DCollins@RedlineGroup.com or call him at 01582 878804.

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