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REC reports "job vacancies back to levels not seen since April"

Posted by: Ian Piper

Report on jobs is a monthly publication produced by IHS Markit and sponsored by the recruitment and employment confederation (REC), the professional body for the UK’s £28.7 billion recruitment industry. With 3,349 corporate members across all regions of the UK, the REC complies survey data to provide a comprehensive guide into the UK labour market. Provided by recruitment consultancies and employers, the data provides the first suggestions of labour market trends and valuable insights into the current recruitment market.

REC Chief Executive Kevin Green has said in light of the recent report that despite the ongoing uncertainty, the UK job market is thriving again in most areas, ‘The Job vacancies are back to levels not seen since April’ and for the third consecutive month, recruiters have reported an increase in the amount of people finding a permanent job. Candidate availability has been falling for three years so this could be positive news. Currently, there are more vacancies than there are people to fill them in many sectors, especially in engineering construction and healthcare. Green also stated that it was the government’s role to outline a strategy to address employability skills within the UK's education sector and that this should include the promotion of apprenticeships and other routes into the world of work. Further, Green indicated that immigration policies need to reflect immediate labour needs. Imposing new restrictions on people coming from abroad to fill vacancies will impact businesses’ ability to meet demand. Green stressed that Britain needs to remain open for business because we simply cannot afford to see businesses relocate overseas, leaving Britain worse off.

The three key points taken from the October survey are as follows: permanent placement growth reaches an eight month high as temp billings rise at a faster pace; the demand for both permanent and temporary candidates is at its highest since May this year; agencies report a steeper decline in staff availability.

The demand in the private sector remained healthy in October with consultancies seeing a sharp increase in vacancies for both perm and temp roles. However, in contrast to this the number of available permanent and temporary roles in the public sector declined. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicated that vacancies rose 1.4% on an annual basis in the three months up to August.

Recruitment consultancies also reported on the number of people that were placed in permanent jobs each month in conjunction with the billings for these placements in temporary or contractual positions. The survey’s data for October highlighted an increase in both permanent and temporary roles for the third month running. This rise was the quickest since February and an increase for a third month in a row, clearly making it the steepest increase seen in eight months. Around 40% of survey respondents reported an increase in placements, whereas 29% saw a fall. Recruitment agencies also reported that improved demand and new clients had boosted the number of people placed in permanent roles. Temporary billings also increased at a stronger rate and the billings received by agencies from the employment of temporary/contract staff increased in October, making it a five month record. In both cases, the North saw the strongest increased in their short term staff billings in October. The only region that had a fall in temporary billings was Scotland. 

Demand for staff has also increased, which was supported by the amount of employee vacancies in the latest survey period. Salaries rose further in October due to this expansion, leading to an increase in hourly pay rates for temp staff (but salaries remained modest overall). Additionally, there has been a further drop in candidate availability which continued to decline in October and is a further decrease from the September findings.

Overall, the outcome of the survey is positive, and October has been a good month with an increase of people finding permanent jobs combined with the highest levels of vacancies seen since April, which can only mean good things for the recruitment industry. Hopefully when we welcome the New Year, these increases will continue. 

Source: REC and IHS Markit.

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