The number of placements made by recruiters for temporary/contracting staff rose sharply again in September, while the growth in permanent staff placements softened to the slowest pace since April, the latest Report on Jobs from IHS Markit and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) revealed.

The growth in temp/contracting placements was vigorous, despite moderating slightly from the historic high recorded in August. The pace of permanent placement growth eased but stayed marked nonetheless.

Vacancies for temp/contracting and permanent roles also continued to grow sharply during September, slowing only marginally from August’s peak.

As seen in successive Report on Jobs surveys over the last four years, candidate unavailability continued to be a dark cloud on the horizon. This placed continuing upward pressure on pay rates in September as employers did their utmost to attract candidates.

Permanent starting salaries soared to their second-highest rate in 22 months in September, just below the August peak, while pay rates for contracting professionals and other temporary workers also continued to surge forward, easing only fractionally from August’s 16-month high point.

Regionally, placement growth for temp/contracting staff rose fastest in Scotland, followed closely by the North of England. London also recorded continued growth in temp billings, but the pace was the weakest of all the regions included in the survey.

For permanent staff, placement growth was most marked in the Midlands and the South of England, but billings in London fell, albeit only marginally.

In terms of sector, demand growth for both temp/contracting and permanent staff was notably more vigorous in the private sector than the public sector.

Blue Collar took the number-one slot in the demand league table for temp/contracting workers, with Nursing/Medical/Care achieving second place.  However, all the categories included in the survey for this type of candidate saw marked increases in demand.

For permanent staff, the top spot in the demand league table went to Accounting/Financial, closely followed by IT & Computing. While the growth in demand for staff vacancies in Construction stayed strong, it expanded at the slowest pace of all the categories surveyed.

Commenting, REC Chief Executive Kevin Green said: “Recruiters are finding it even harder to find people to fill vacancies. Candidate availability has been falling for the past four years, and the record-high UK employment rate plus a slowdown in the number of EU nationals coming to work here is exacerbating the situation, potentially leaving roles unfilled.”

He called on the Government to “ensure any new immigration system includes provisions for low-skilled and temporary workers so that warehouses, supermarkets and restaurants can access the people they desperately need.”

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