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Demand for staff reaches 18-month high with increasing salaries

13/04/17 Adam Walker Director

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has released its latest Report on Jobs, highlighting trends in the recruitment industry. The April report provides the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies including Redline Group.

The April 2017 Markit/REC Report on Jobs 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.

The availability of permanent candidates fell further in March, although the rate of candidate availability weakened slightly since February’s 13-month peak. Also, the availability of contract and temporary staff fell at a similarly sharp rate at its steepest since January 2016.

Key findings from the April 2017 Report:

  • Growth in permanent placements weakens from February’s one-year peak
  • The demand for staff holds close to it strongest for 18-months
  • Upwards pressure on permanent starting salaries continues

Overall the demand for both permanent and contract staff remained high especially within key professional disciplines within the high technology arena. Both IT & Computing and Engineering remained in the top three most sought after areas for employees, Accounting /Finance and Executive remained in the top ten rankings. The number of candidates available to fill permanent roles continuing to decline markedly during in March with London and the South showing the steepest drops.

Meanwhile, the rate of decline in contract / temporary staff availability remained marked at the end of the first quarter. Furthermore, the rate of reduction was the steepest recorded in 14 months.

Commenting on the findings from this month’s report REC Chief Executive Kevin Green has summarised this current job market within the UK:

“Finding people to do jobs on offer is rapidly becoming employers’ biggest headache and many are reporting increasing numbers of professional vacancies as hard to fill, including IT & Computing jobs.”

“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.”

Adam Walker comments: “We’re now seeing mixed messages on the economy but future prospects are continuing to have some effect on employees willing to change career. Hopefully, the recent report from the OECD showing that Britain’s economy shows signs of picking up pace as the UK joins in a global recovery, reversing fears of a slowdown last year around the Brexit vote.”

“Rising exports and strong demand from households have been highlighted as crucial factors driving the UK forwards, and now the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development believes there are ‘tentative signs of growth gaining momentum, although uncertainty related to Brexit remains’.”

At a time when the pound is weak, that should help support British exports and so boost the economy further.

Economists at the EY Item Club hiked their 2017 growth forecasts for the UK this week on the basis that exports should rise on the combination of the weak pound and a strengthening global economy.

A survey from American Express also showed British companies are increasingly upbeat on rising demand from overseas.

And analysts at Citi and JP Morgan both hiked their economic growth forecast for the year, predicting GDP will rise by 1.8pc and 1.9pc respectively - the same as or even quicker than the 1.8pc recorded last year.

Adam continues “All of these recent surveys continue to highlight the challenge in finding the right people to undertake specialist jobs within the high technology and engineering sector. Hiring is a key challenge for all managers and directors. Specialist recruitment partners offering in-depth knowledge of the specialisms will be even more key to hard pushed employers trying to find staff.”