Contractor hiring remains strong while permanent candidates fall
by Jasmin Swayne
UK recruitment consultancies reported that placements for Umbrella Company Employees and other temporary/contracting staff grew sharply again in January, the latest Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and Markit reveals.
The availability of permanent candidates fell more rapidly than that of temporary/contracting candidates, which declined at the lowest rate in three months.
Starting salaries for permanent staff accelerated briskly in January, reaching the fastest pace in nine months. Pay rates for temporary/contracting staff also accelerated but eased slightly from the seven-month high recorded in December.
Billings for permanent staff placements increased markedly at the start of 2017, although at the slowest pace since September last year. Meanwhile, temporary/contracting placements surged sharply, albeit at a slightly less vigorous pace than the eight-month high recorded in December (which may have been elevated by the traditional seasonal demand for temporary staff).
Billings for temporary/contracting placements rose across all of the regions monitored by the survey in January, with the sharpest rates of growth arising in the Midlands and the North. Permanent placements rose in all four English regions but declined again in Scotland.
Demand for staff remained appreciably stronger in the private sector than in the public sector during January. Permanent staff vacancies in the private sector expanded at the sharpest rate in 18 months, while vacancies for temporary/contracting staff also grew but at a slightly slower pace.
In the public sector, demand for both permanent and temporary/contracting staff eased modestly.
Nursing/Medical/Care staff topped the demand league table for both permanent and temporary/contracting positions. The weakest demand for permanent staff arose in the Hotel and Catering sector, but demand remained strong in the Engineering and IT & Computing sectors.
Demand for temporary/contracting staff grew in virtually all monitored sectors. Blue Collar workers came second to Nursing/Medical/Care staff, but there was a modest decline in demand for Construction staff.
The REC’s CEO, Kevin Green, said that employers are “crying out” for staff at a time when recruiters are reporting declines in candidate availability in all regions, a factor that is impeding jobs growth.
In the absence of candidates, business will automate activity, outsource overseas or simply shut down, diminishing jobs availability across the UK, Green said, adding: “The NHS is already in turmoil because it doesn’t have enough staff, and the Government’s decision to prioritise immigration control over the economy in their EU negotiations means that finding candidates will become yet more difficult in the future.
“We agree that more can be done to encourage under-represented groups into work, including disabled people, single parents and older workers. But the idea that this will resolve the talent shortage is pie in the sky.”