Decline in candidates as recruiters report continued problems finding staff

The UK is experiencing a steep drop in candidate availability, according to the latest ‘Report on Jobs’ from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

The IHS Markit/REC report, released this morning, reveals recruiters reported continued difficulties regarding the availability of staff for both permanent and temporary roles. While easing since August, the rate of deterioration in permanent staff availability remained historically sharp and temp labour supply also fell sharply, indicating the fastest drop for 10 months.

The data shows permanent staff appointments continued to rise at the end of the third quarter, albeit at a softer pace – though growth remained sharp in the context of historical data, and temp billings expanded at a slightly quicker pace compared to August.

The September data also indicated a further rise in job vacancies for both permanent and temporary roles. The rate of growth in staff demand was sharp overall, albeit the weakest seen for nearly two years.

Across the country, London registered the quickest increase in permanent placements of all four monitored English regions, while the weakest expansion was seen in the Midlands.

All four monitored English regions witnessed increases in temp billings, with the strongest rise witnessed in the Midlands and the weakest expansion registered in the South of England.

While IT & computing remained the most in-demand category for permanent staff, a higher number of vacancies were also seen across the remaining nine sectors covered by the survey. Retail saw the softest increase in permanent staff vacancies.

Demand rose for all monitored categories of temporary/contract staff in September. Nursing/medical/care posted the steepest increase in demand, while the slowest growth was indicated for construction workers.

Commenting on the data, REC CEO Neil Carberry said while UK firms were showing resilience, they are struggling to find the people they need to drive growth and opportunity: “Recruiters’ specialist skills help to address this, but with Brexit looming a comprehensive mobility deal with the EU will be needed to underpin prosperity. Higher skills investment, driven by a reformed Apprenticeship Levy, will also be essential.

“An effective approach to post-Brexit immigration must acknowledge that there is unmet need for roles of all sorts – not just those filled by the very highest earners. Keeping deliveries going, patients being treated and goods on the shelves means an open approach to workers from elsewhere. Businesses understand the need for control – but this is not in conflict with openness to those who come to contribute.”

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