Perm placements down again but temp billings up slightly

Brexit uncertainty continued to hit hiring activity in September, according to the latest Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) KPMG Report on Jobs.

The report’s findings, released this morning, reveal permanent staff placements declined for the seventh month in a row in September, while temp billings picked up slightly from August.

Vacancy growth eased for a consecutive month in September, with overall demand for staff rising only modestly. This marked the slowest expansion of vacancies since January 2012. Demand for permanent staff increased at its least marked pace for 92 months, offsetting a slightly stronger rise in temporary vacancies.

September signalled a further sharp fall in total candidate supply, despite the rate of contraction easing to the least marked since December 2016. Permanent and temporary staff availability declined at the end Q3, with the perm availability witnessing the steeper rate of reduction.

While starting salaries increased at a faster pace in September, temp pay rates rose at the softest pace since November 2016.

All four of the monitored English regions, with the exception of the North of England, registered lower permanent staff appointments in September – however, the increase in the North of England was only marginal. The North of England and the Midlands both registered marked increases in temp billings during September, while the South of England saw only a slight expansion. Meanwhile, a reduction was seen in London for a consecutive month.

The strongest increases in permanent staff vacancies in September were seen in IT & computing and hotel & catering. Construction and retail were the only monitored sectors to signal reduced demand for permanent workers.

Demand for temporary staff increased in seven of the 10 monitored job sectors during September, led by nursing/medical/care. Retail continued to see the steepest decline in short-term vacancies.

Commenting on the findings, REC CEO Neil Carberry said: “Businesses are positive about their own prospects, but ongoing Brexit uncertainty has led many firms to delay projects and hiring decisions. Vacancy growth has fallen to its lowest since 2012. The UK’s vibrant temporary work market is playing an important role in helping employers to manage the ongoing uncertainty and jobseekers to find work.

“There are deeper issues which must be addressed to secure the UK’s future prosperity. Productivity is falling, and there are skills shortages in vital sectors across the economy. Solving these problems must be top of the government’s to-do list once the Brexit deadlock has been broken.”

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