According to figures released today (9 April), increases in permanent and temporary staff placements were recorded in March, but the rises were only slight and the slowest in six months.
It was also revealed in the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs that temporary staff placements are at their slowest rate in seven months.
Despite these negative figures, it found that permanent staff salaries and temporary/contract staff pay increased at moderate rates in March, with the latter’s inflation reaching a 12-month high.
In addition, job vacancy growth was at a seven-month low and permanent staff availability had fallen, according to the results.
Commenting on the findings, REC Chief Executive, Kevin Green, said:
“The fact that in March more people secured jobs than in the previous month is obviously good news, although the rate of growth has slowed. However the most significant issue is the emergence of a two speed labour market with a lack of candidates for highly skilled roles at the same time as persistent levels of unemployment.
“Recruiters report that businesses are willing to pay better starting salaries to get the right talent but are struggling to find people with the right skills and experience as candidate availability declines. It’s a worrying trend that is particularly problematic across IT and engineering and at senior levels in other sectors.”
“Persistent skills shortages in these areas could have a disastrous impact on critical infrastructure projects, especially if employers can’t find the talent they need to jump-start new ventures in energy, transport and construction.”
The report also found that for the fourteenth consecutive month, nursing/medical/care was the most in-demand category for temporary/contract staff during March. Engineering/construction workers were also highly sought-after in the latest survey period. In contrast, demand for hotel and catering staff fell for the first time in six months, albeit marginally.
Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of business services at KPMG, said:
"The jobs market is finally catching up with the prevailing GDP picture as confidence among employers and candidates drops to a half-year low.
"For those staff who are in place the problem remains one of being over-stretched and the longer this goes on, the less productive they will become. Employers clearly recognise that they need to ask some searching questions to solve this issue, but are unlikely to act on what they discover in the near future.
"Perhaps, once the measures announced in last month's budget start to take effect, we may see a positive impact on business confidence, but there is a long way to go and forecasts for a flat GDP for the rest of the year do not bode well."