Billings for temporary/contracting placements soared at the highest growth rate in almost two-and-a-half years in July, while growth in permanent placements reached a 27-month high, the latest Markit/REC Report on Jobs reveals.

The monthly survey shows a robust and sustained rise in demand for both temporary/contracting and permanent staff, reaching its joint-strongest overall rate for 23 months.

However, a dark cloud hangs over the positive trends, as the availability of both temporary/contracting and permanent candidates for advertised roles continued to decline precipitously in July. While the pace of decline eased for permanent staff, it worsened at the briskest pace in over 18 months for temp/contracting staff.

Pay is also climbing markedly. Starting salaries for permanent roles rose at a rate not seen in 20 months, while hourly rates for contractor and temp roles also rose at a vigorous pace.

All of the regions monitored in the survey reported sharp rises in temp/contractor placements, with the North of England leading the way. The Midlands led the way for permanent placements, and the rate of increase was weakest in London, which softened to an eight-month low.

As in previous surveys, demand for both permanent and temp/contracting staff was appreciably stronger in the private sector than in the public sector, with private sector vacancies growing slightly faster than the rate recorded in June. Demand for both categories of staff softened further in the public sector.

In terms of job categories, Blue Collar topped the demand league table for short-term/contracting workers, although demand for short-term Nursing/Medical/Care and Hotel & Catering workers also climbed steeply.

Engineering demand was at the top of the league table for permanent workers, with Accounting/Financial and IT & Computing coming in second and third places respectively. Demand for permanent staff grew strongly, however, across all the job categories monitored by the survey.

Commenting, REC CEO Kevin Green said: “The jobs market continues to confound expectations with both permanent and temporary placements growing at the fastest rate for over two years. Starting salaries are also still rising, so for workers who want to boost their earnings, now is a good time to consider moving jobs.”

Noting that employers are working harder than ever to fill rising vacancy numbers, he drew attention to the parts of the economy that are heavily reliant on EU workers. These areas, he said, are under considerable pressure as many EU workers return home due to Brexit.

He added, “We can’t ignore the importance of our relationship with the EU to employers. If we want to keep our jobs market successful and vibrant, we must make it easier, not harder, for employers to access the people they need.”

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