REC calls for jobs election as political uncertainty continues to hit hiring

Recruiters across the UK continued to register subdued hiring trends during October, according to the latest ‘Report on Jobs’.

October 2019 data from KPMG and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation reveals the number of people placed into permanent job roles fell at a solid rate, while temp billings growth weakened to only a marginal pace, with recruiters claiming political and economic uncertainty has continued to dampen hiring activity.

The data also signalled only a modest upturn in overall demand for staff across the UK. Notably, the rate of vacancy growth was the slowest seen since January 2012, with both permanent and short-term worker demand increasing at historically weak rates.

The uncertainty also affected candidate availability during October, as people were reluctant to seek out new roles. Total candidate numbers fell at the sharpest pace for four months, largely driven by a steep fall in permanent labour supply, as the availability of temporary staff declined at a softer pace.

Pay awards to perm hires continued to rise sharply in October, despite the rate of inflation easing from the previous month. Average pay for short-term staff also rose markedly, while pay rises were widely linked to a shortage of suitably skilled candidates.

Across the country, permanent staff appointments declined sharply across the Midlands, the South of England and London in October, while the North of England registered a solid increase in permanent placements. While higher temp billings were posted in the Midlands and the North of England, declines were seen in the South of England and London.

Softer permanent staff demand trends were seen across all monitored sectors compared to a year ago in October, with IT & computing the best performer in terms of vacancy growth, and retail remaining at the bottom of the rankings.

While nursing/medical/care saw the sharpest increase in demand for short-term staff during October, followed by hotel & catering, the only two sectors to record reduced demand for temp workers were executive/professional and construction.

Commenting on the findings, REC CEO Neil Carberry said: “These figures underline why this needs to be a jobs election. The labour market is strong, but permanent placements have now dropped for eight months in a row, and vacancies growth has fallen to its lowest level since January 2012. One bright spark is the temporary labour market, which continues to provide flexible work to people and businesses that need it during troubled times.

“Ending political uncertainty and getting companies hiring again is vital – but we must also look to the long-term future of work. Jobs must be front and centre during this election campaign, and we will be launching our REC manifesto for work next week. We will be urging all political parties to run on policies which support and enhance the UK’s flexible labour market – allowing businesses to create jobs, employees to build careers and the economy to grow.”

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