The most recent Report on Jobs published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and IHS Markit reveals that placements for both temporary/contracting and permanent staff grew robustly in January 2018, although candidate availability for both categories again dwindled.

At the start of 2018, the rate of growth in permanent placements reached its briskest pace since April 2015. The growth in temporary/contracting placements was also vigorous, although it eased to a pace last seen ten months ago.

Demand for staff, as reflected in job vacancies, also climbed steeply in January, even though the pace of expansion eased to a 13-month low. Vacancies for contractors and other temporary workers as well as permanent staff still increased at historically healthy rates.

The growth in pay for contractors and temporary workers rose sharply in the first month of the year, albeit easing to the weakest rate in ten months, while starting salaries for permanent candidates surged at the fastest pace in more than two-and-a-half years.

Of concern, however, was the continued sharp decline in candidate availability for both temporary/contracting and permanent roles, which again dropped at historically marked rates, albeit somewhat softer (in each category) than the precipitous falls recorded in December.

Regionally, the Midlands came top of the placements league table for temporary/contracting staff by a wide margin. Growth in temporary/contractor billings was also vigorous in London as well as the North and South of England. Following its modest downturn in December, Scotland saw a rise in temporary/contract billings in January, too.

As in previous surveys, demand for both permanent and short-term staff was strongest in the private sector. While rising at a slightly softer rate than that seen in December, demand for temporary workers climbed across the private sector. Vacancies for permanent staff also rose at a steep and accelerated pace.

In the public sector, demand for permanent staff flatlined, while the number of temporary/contract roles on offer fell slightly.

For temporary/contract staff, Hotel & Catering came top of the demand league table, while Blue Collar and Nursing/Medical/Care sectors each registered robust demand for new short-term staff. Each of the nine categories of permanent jobs monitored in the survey saw improved demand, with IT & Computing at the head of the leaderboard.

Welcoming the “reassuring” need for permanent staff, REC CEO Kevin Green also noted the slight softening in demand for short-term staff, which he warned may be “an early sign that employers are hesitating”.

Green called on the government to help upskill the workforce by extending the Apprenticeship Levy into a broader training levy and to implement an evidence-based immigration policy to prevent candidate shortages from worsening.

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