The latest Report on Jobs from Markit and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has recorded the sharpest rise in temporary/contracting placements so far this year.
The survey of REC-member recruiters reveals that while permanent staff placements also continued to grow solidly, they did so at the weakest pace in seven months.
Of particular note is the finding that for both categories of staff, candidate availability deteriorated to its lowest level in 16 months.
In addition to the sharply accelerated rise in temp/contracting billings, hourly pay rates for temps and contractors also rose at their briskest pace to date this year. Meanwhile, although permanent starting salaries rose at a faster pace than the series average, the pace softened to the lowest rate of increase in four months.
While demand for both permanent and temp/contracting staff eased slightly on the previous month, vacancies for both categories continued to rise markedly during April.
Once again, the Midlands emerged as the region with the quickest rate of expansion in permanent roles, with Scotland coming in second. London saw the slowest rise.
Temp/contracting billings, however, rose across all the regions monitored, with the strongest rates occurring in Scotland and London. The weakest rise was recorded in the South of England.
As previously, demand for both categories of staff in the private sector significantly outstripped that in the public sector. While demand climbed sharply in the private sector for both contractors and permanent staff, the increase eased to the slowest rates in three and four months respectively.
Demand for permanent staff in the public sector fell for the second consecutive month, although only slightly. Meanwhile, demand for temp/contracting workers dropped marginally for the first time since January.
The upturn in demand for temp/contracting workers was broadly distributed across the UK. Topping the demand league table was Nursing/Medical/Care, followed by Hotel & Catering.
In the permanent jobs market, Engineering candidates were most in demand, closely followed by IT & Computing and Nursing/Medical/Care.
Noting the continued growth in demand within all sectors and regions of the UK, REC Chief Executive Kevin Green also drew attention to the potentially harmful effects of ongoing candidate shortages, which fell to a 16-month low.
He said: “One thing is for certain; if British business is to thrive, then whichever party forms a Government after 8th June needs to address the ever-shrinking pool of suitable candidates by investing in skills and career advice for UK jobseekers as well as safeguarding access to the workers we need from abroad. It is vital that the future immigration system is agile enough to reflect and adapt to evolving labour market needs.”