The growth in temporary/contracting billings remained marked in June but the rate of expansion moderated to its lowest in eight months, the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs reveals.

Permanent placements also continued to increase but, while remaining stronger than the survey’s long-term average, slowed to the lowest rate in over two years.

The reason for the slowdown in both contract and permanent placements was clear: a shortage of suitably skilled and qualified candidates, which although easing slightly since May was reported by recruitment consultants to remain considerable.

On a region-by-region basis, Umbrella Company Employees and other temporary/contracting professionals were most in demand in the Midlands, with the weakest expansion being seen in London. Job availability in the private sector for both contract and permanent positions again outperformed the public sector, with demand for nursing/medical/care contractors rising most sharply.

All nine of the monitored temporary/contracting staff categories enjoyed increased demand, although it was weakest in the executive/professional category.

Commenting on the findings, KPMG partner Bernard Brown noted the considerable fall in the number of skilled workers looking for new roles in June. This, he said, was stifling hiring activity and fostering a degree of lethargy on the job market.

Mr Brown continued: “This growing skills shortage is cross sector and cross discipline: recruiters are struggling to fill vacancies for everything from software engineers to sales. The lack of qualified candidates is also driving up salaries, with the right individual able to command a significant premium from businesses anxious to secure their skills and experience.”

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