In line with surveys from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) over the last few months, new data from job ad search engine reveals that permanent vacancies shrank in May due to EU referendum uncertainties.

Adzuna’s latest UK Job Market Report shows that job vacancies contracted from 1,156,810 in April to 1,150,149 in May, a reduction of 0.6 per cent and the second consecutive monthly fall recorded by the report. Employers were cautious about additional permanent hires as a result of uncertainty over the referendum outcome, which eventually culminated, as we now know, in a Brexit vote.

Monthly falls were recorded in two-thirds of UK regions as companies awaited the referendum outcome before appointing any new permanent staff. The biggest decline was seen in London, where vacancies fell by 4,017 to hit 248,371 – the largest drop in the whole of the UK.

Salaries also declined, dropping by 1.2 per cent between April and May to reach an average of £33,062. This was the largest decline in 21 months, and it indicates that employers are easing back on hiring senior appointees. Jobseekers have also see salaries fall over the last two months, dissipating the momentum they achieved at the start of the year.

Competition for jobs also eased, falling from 0.72 jobseekers per vacancy in May 2015 to 0.52 in May this year. Teaching vacancies, however, bucked the trend, climbing by 3.0 per cent in May – a sign that it is getting tougher to attract new talent into the profession.

Adzuna co-founder Doug Monro noted that May had been a “nervous month for employers,” with hiring plans being beset with uncertainties in the run-up to the EU referendum. Senior workers, he said, “rode out the political storm” before changing jobs.

He went on to suggest that ongoing problems in the jobs market are likely to re-surface after the political debate quietens. Monro said: “… the chronic skills shortage is threatening key industries. Science, IT and Engineering have all been hit. To tackle this new pushes are needed, like investment in homegrown talent. But vital overseas workers are finding it harder to enter the country due to visa clampdowns – putting pressure on healthcare. Brexit debate and talks of an Australian-style points system have shown the need for skilled workers from abroad. They are a crucial part of Britain’s workforce – and keep many sectors afloat.”

Several prominent trade bodies, however, from the REC to the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) to the Association for Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), have noted a rise in new opportunities for contracting professionals as employers apply the brake pedal to permanent hiring.

Umbrella Company Employees and other contractors look set to remain in demand for the foreseeable future in the light of the Brexit vote and its implications.

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