The Olympic Games did little to boost the fortunes of permanent job seekers over the summer, but temps and contractors, especially those specialising in engineering and IT contracting, fared rather better.

So says the latest jobs report from APSCo, which suggests that the Olympics exacerbated the usual seasonal dip in demand for professional workers. New permanent billings fell by 24% during August, while temporary billings declined less precipitously at 15%.

APSCo’s chief executive, Ann Swain, believes the drop in permanent openings was due largely to management teams in professional service firms abstaining from interviewing candidates while the Games were in full throttle. Despite the month-on-month fall for contractor billings, the total figure represents a rise of 4% compared to August last year.

Employers appear to be getting the message that PAYE umbrella and limited company contractors are an attractive option because of their flexibility, said John Nurthen, a spokesman for the employment research firm Staffing Industry Analysts. Demand for professional contractors is likely to grow in what remains of 2012, as confidence in the state of the economy remains low and is unlikely to support a surge in permanent headcounts.

Contractors supplying the IT skills market did especially well, with demand for their services strongly bucking the overall trend and increasing by 15%. Recent investments in the car industry appear to have boosted opportunities for engineering contractors too, with demand rising by 10%.

The findings are in line with the recent REC/KPMG Report on Jobs, which showed demand for IT contracting hitting its highest level of the year during August.

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