The white collar jobs market is in sustained recovery mode, with placements for both permanent and temporary/contracting professionals rising year on year by 12% and 10% respectively in February.

So say the latest figures from APSCo, confirming recent data from the CIPS Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) showing that the services sector – a major engine for economic growth in the UK – has continued to expand vigorously, with new jobs hitting their highest level in four months.

Manufacturing also performed better than expected in February: APSCo’s data shows that permanent and temporary/contracting placements for engineers rose by almost 10% year-on-year, with online ads for vacancies soaring by nearly 30% month-on-month. The PMI data indicates that employment in manufacturing grew at its fastest rate in three years.

A potentially serious obstacle to further growth is also emerging, however, especially in the finance and accounting sector. While February saw a year-on-year leap in permanent placements of almost 30%, representing a month-on-month rise of around 3%, Umbrella Company Employees specialising in the sector saw demand for their services skyrocket by 41%. Some of these professionals will have been taken on for specific projects, but it is almost certain that employers are turning to them because of a candidate shortage for permanent openings.

APSCo chief executive Ann Swain said that underinvestment in training and staff development may have seemed like an economic necessity during the recession; however, she added that “as the recovery gains pace and the need for talent grows more urgent, organisations will begin to realise that it may in fact have been a false economy.”

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