Britain is in the midst of a steep decline in candidate availability affecting both permanent and temporary/contracting hiring markets, the latest “Report on Jobs” from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and IHS Markit reveals.

The monthly report, based on survey data supplied by the REC’s member recruitment consultancies, reveals that the latter are reporting persistent difficulties in sourcing available candidates for permanent and temp/contracting roles. Although the rate of decline in candidate availability during September eased in comparison with the previous month, it remained historically steep in the permanent jobs market and accelerated at the fastest pace in 10 months in the temp/contracting market.

Even so, permanent staff placements continued to rise at the close of the third quarter, although at a more moderate pace. However, in comparison with historical data, the rise in placements remained steep. Placements for contracting professionals and other temporary staff climbed at a measurably brisker pace than that recorded in August.

Job vacancies, too, grew in September for both permanent and temp/contracting roles, with the rate of expansion accelerating, albeit at the most pedestrian pace in almost two years.

Regionally, all four of the English regions monitored by the survey saw increases in billings for successfully-placed temp/contracting staff, with the Midlands registering the most vigorous increase and the South of England registering the weakest.

The rise in permanent billings was strongest in London, while the Midlands recorded the most modest expansion.

Demand for temp/contracting staff rose across all of the monitored job categories in September, with the sharpest rise being registered in Nursing/Medical/Care. Demand was lowest for short-term construction workers.

IT & Computing emerged as the most sought-after category for permanent staff, although vacancies in all nine monitored categories saw increases over the previous month, with the softest expansion occurring in retail.

Commenting on the survey findings, Neil Carberry, the REC’s Chief Executive, said that although British firms are demonstrating resilience, they are also struggling to source the talent they need to further propel growth and opportunity.

The specialist skills of recruiters, he added, were helping to ameliorate this problem, but he warned that with Brexit advancing ever-closer, a wide-ranging talent mobility deal with the EU will be necessary to foster future prosperity.

Calling for higher investment in skills facilitated by a reformed Apprenticeship Levy, he re-emphasised the need for a post-Brexit immigration deal, stating: “Keeping deliveries going, patients being treated and goods on the shelves means an open approach to workers from elsewhere. Businesses understand the need for control – but this is not in conflict with openness to those who come to contribute.”

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