Billings for temporary/contracting staff soared at the fastest pace in 15 years last month and permanent placements rose to levels last seen in March 2010, according to the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs.

The expansion in job vacancies recorded by the REC/KPMG survey of UK recruiters in November – a 15-year high – continued into December; moreover, pay rates for temporary/contracting continued to rise at a solid pace last month, while starting salaries for permies reached their highest level since October 2007.

Umbrella Company Employees seeking new assignments this year may also be able to capitalise on another trend: the availability of suitably-qualified candidates for permanent vacancies fell at a rate last seen in November 2004. While not as drastic, there was also a substantial decline in the availability of candidates for temporary/contracting roles.

Demand for contractors and other temporary workers was strongest in the Midlands, with the North getting the runner-up position. All categories of temporary/contracting work saw increased demand, with IT and computing seeing the strongest rise followed by nursing/medical/care and accounting/financial.

The REC’s head of policy, Kate Shoesmith, said: “The UK labour market is starting the New Year in robust form. Our latest figures show sharp growth in the number of people finding new permanent jobs and the most rapid rise in starting salaries since October 2007. Increasing demand for temp workers has driven up hourly pay rates for agency workers for the 11th month on the trot. Growing confidence means more and more employers are willing to invest in their workforce and take on more people.”

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