Umbrella Company Employees and others in the temporary/contracting sector enjoyed a bumper month in November, with billings and pay rates growing at their sharpest pace in five months, the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs reveals.

Based on survey data provided by REC-compliant recruitment consultancies across the country, the report shows that permanent staff placements and salaries also grew vigorously. Both were up on the previous month to reach a seven-month high.

Candidate availability for both permanent and temporary/contracting roles fell at a sharp and accelerating rate, however, with panellists reporting candidate shortages across a range of skill sets.

Recruiters based in the Midlands reported the sharpest rise in temporary/contracting placements. Overall, contractors working in nursing/medical/care took the top spot in the demand league table, slightly ahead of the accounting/financial, IT & computing, and engineering categories. The construction category was the only sector to see a marginal fall in demand.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said that with pay rates rising and more people finding jobs in the context of confident businesses, the survey was “a great way to cap a bumper year for the UK labour market.” He added: “Such is the demand for staff that the availability of people to fill temporary roles has fallen at the sharpest rate in 18 years. In part this has been driven by businesses taking on additional staff for the Christmas period.”

Mr Green continued: “In some sectors, skill shortages could make this a sad Christmas. For example, more than two-thirds of recruiters that supply drivers said that a shortage of candidates will cause chaos for shops and delayed deliveries for shoppers.”

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