Agencies specialising in professional recruitment have reported zero year-on-year growth in the number of vacancies for permanent roles in October, new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) reveals.
The finding corroborates data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which last month revealed that the employment rate for the three months to September 2016 remained unchanged at 74.5 per cent. This was the same as the level reached in the three months to August 2016.
Overall employment has slowed markedly according to the ONS figures, with the three-month rise declining from August’s 106,000 to just 49,000 in September – well under the expected 91,000.
APSCo’s data conceals some marked variations in hiring activity between the core sector groups monitored by the trade association. Permanent roles for engineers and IT professionals declined by six per cent, but vacancies for financial services and marketing professionals climbed by three per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
Defying EY’s recent analysis indicating that London would lose 83,000 banking jobs following the Brexit vote, APSCo’s data reveals vacancy numbers remaining robust in October: permanent openings climbed by three per cent.
Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals specialising in the finance sector have enjoyed a post-Brexit bonanza of opportunities. Vacancies for contractors climbed in October, but only by one per cent. This compares to an eight per cent year-on-year increase in September. During the previous month, the figure stood at 16 per cent.
The six per cent decline in available engineering roles is in line with reports of an unexpected drop in UK industrial output during September 2016, which weakened exports and widened Britain’s trade deficit with the rest of the world.
Median pay rates contracted across all professional sectors by 0.3 per cent on average year-on-year. Yet again, however, there were marked variations between sectors, with IT professionals seeing a rise of 3.3 per cent while banking professionals saw a year-on-year decline of 5.4 per cent.
ONS figures show that national pay grew by 2.4 per cent year-on-year, in sharp contrast to the professional sectors.
Noting that the UK economy has been more resilient than many commentators had forecast in the wake of the Brexit vote, APSCo CEO Ann Swain conceded that the “uncertain nature and timing of Brexit is now beginning to take its toll” as 2017 nears.
She cited findings from a survey of over 1,000 companies by the Centre for Economic and Business Research that showed companies mothballing their investment plans following the Brexit vote.
Such a decline in confidence will inevitably affect hiring intentions, Ms Swain said, with the Bank of England predicting that the UK’s jobless rate will increase to approximately 5.5 per cent by the middle of 2018.