Demand for Umbrella Company Employees and other temporary/contracting staff declined for the first time in nine months during April, the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs reveals. The number of people placed in permanent roles rose again in April, however, making it the seventh successive month to register an increase.

The Report on Jobs compiles feedback from recruitment agencies across the UK. The slowdown in temporary/contracting billings is largely attributable to London and the South, which saw a decline, while the Midlands and the North registered a rise.

Demand for both permanent and temporary/contracting staff declined in the public sector during April, although it grew for both categories in the private sector. Of the nine temporary/contracting sectors monitored in the survey, seven saw improved demand, with nursing/medical/care workers topping the list. Demand for temporary engineering personnel came a close second.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said that recruiter feedback showed that employers were making hiring decisions faster than previously. He added: “Highly-skilled jobs like engineering and IT are still big growth areas, and the reports of shortages of people to fill sales vacancies show that companies are gearing up for increases in business investment and consumer spending. All the feedback from recruiters is that employers intend to continue to increase their use of flexible staffing in the months ahead.”

Bernard Brown, partner and head of business at KPMG, sounded a cautionary note, however. There are simply too many inconsistencies in the employment data to suggest recovery at this stage, he said. The likelihood, he added, is that more storm clouds lie ahead and will need to be passed through “before the employment rainbow will really be allowed to shine.”

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