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Hiring remains strong, permanent vacancies are stable and placements are on the rise

04/10/17 Nick Livingstone Managing Partner

Professional recruitment firms reported that although there was no change in overall vacancy numbers for permanent roles year-on-year in August 2017, placements increased by five percent during the same period, according to new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies APSCo.

APSCo’s data, which focuses on professional recruitment, reveals notable variations between the trade association’s core sector groups in terms of hiring activity. While permanent vacancies across both finance and engineering have increased (by 9 percent and 2 percent respectively) permanent vacancies within IT slipped by 5 percent. Vacancies for professional contractors decreased by 12 percent across the board year-on-year, with demand falling across every core sector.

Demand for interims decreased by 12 percent year-on-year in August 2017, while the number of contractors out on assignment remained largely stable, dipping by just 0.5 percent over the same period. Contract vacancy numbers were down across each of APSCo’s core sector groups. Demand for engineering jobs, IT jobs and finance jobs, decreased by 3 percent, 12 percent and 28 percent respectively.

APSCo’s data also shows pockets of strong activity in the contract and interim market in terms of sector. The number of contract professionals on assignment within finance has increased by 17 percent, while engineering placements are up 21 percent year-on-year.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo comments: “While, at first glance, no growth in permanent job availability may be disconcerting, it is worth noting that annual August-to-August comparisons have historically been somewhat flat as a result of the holiday period. With this in mind, demand for permanent talent is reassuringly stable, and with forecasters predicting that the UK economy is set to surge back to life in the coming months, we cautiously anticipate that vacancy numbers will soon be increasing once again.”

Nick Livingstone, Redline Group Director comments: “From our thirty-six years’ experience in recruitment, we understand that August/September is usually an unpredictable period with people being on holiday and project gaps in contract recruitment. This tends to put recruitment decisions on hold, so the 5 percent increase in permanent placements is still encouraging. Nevertheless, it is still prominent that there is a difficulty in staffing firms finding good quality candidates. With demand remaining consistent, employers are responding with counter-offers in increasing numbers in order to retain departing staff.”

Nick continues: “The figures are reinforced by the latest ONS information that unemployment is at its lowest level for 40 years. The ‘war for talent’ has stepped up a notch as the number of vacancies continues to outnumber available candidates. To keep the ratio sustainable, it is crucial the door is held open for skilled international workers into the UK to fill these roles and boost UK output.”