Hourly pay rates for contracting professionals and other temporary workers reached a six-month high in June, while demand for their services remained at the high point recorded in May, the latest Markit/REC Report on Jobs reveals.

Candidate availability for both permanent and temporary/contracting vacancies, however, dwindled further in June, with the latter plummeting at the fastest pace in 18 months. The decline in permanent candidate availability fell at a softer pace than in May but remained marked.

Umbrella Company Employees and other temp/contracting workers based in Scotland saw the strongest surge in placements in the UK, although all regions monitored in the survey recorded substantial growth rates. Permanent placements, too, were strongest north of the border, with the slowest pace of growth occurring in London.

The rate of growth in vacancies for temp/contracting staff outstripped that of permanent workers in the private sector. Demand for the latter softened slightly month-on-month.

The public sector saw increased demand for staff, with survey data revealing equal growth in available roles for both permanent and temporary/contracting staff.

Demand for Hotel & Catering temp/contracting staff marginally exceeded that for Nursing/Medical/Care, just beating the latter into first place in the demand “league table.” Growth in demand for both categories, however, was marked. The sector signalling the weakest growth in demand for temp/contracting staff was Executive/Professional.

Meanwhile, demand for permanent staff rose markedly across all of the job sectors monitored in the survey in June. Engineering claimed first place in the demand league table, followed by Accounting/Financial.

Commenting on the latest findings, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Director of Policy, Tom Hadley, said: “With fewer people currently looking for jobs, employers are having to increase starting salaries to secure the talent they need. This is creating great opportunities for people with in-demand skills who are prepared to change jobs, but it’s also putting unsustainable pressure on many businesses.”

Mr Hadley proceeded to emphasise the fact that Brexit is exacerbating skills shortages, illustrating his point with the recent sharp rise in demand for accountants and finance professionals, driven by organisations seeking to shield themselves from economic uncertainty.

He said: “London alone employs almost 200,000 EU nationals in these roles. Policies which make it more difficult to recruit and retain these people will put business growth at risk.”

He underlined the crucial importance of investing in upskilling the domestic workforce in order to secure the long-term health of the UK jobs market. Even so, Hadley believes that employers will remain concerned about losing access to EU workers and called for a five-year roadmap for Brexit immigration policy to enable employers to plan effectively so that the British economy can flourish.

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