Recruitment activity picks up

The region saw the first increase in permanent placements for 12 months during December, with permanent appointments rising moderately overall.

According to the latest KPMG and REC UK Report on Jobs, temp billings continued to increase, with growth accelerating to the fastest pace since November 2018.

At the same time, December data highlighted further deteriorations in candidate availability, with permanent staff supply falling sharply and temporary staff availability deteriorating at the sharpest rate for 11 months.

The number of permanent staff appointments across the Midlands increased for the first time in a year during December, with respondents linking the rise to greater demand for candidates amid improved economic activity. The increase was moderate overall, but softer than the series historical average.

Temp billings across the Midlands increased for the fourth consecutive month in December, with anecdotal evidence associating the latest uptick to increased demand for staff.  The rise was the fastest since November 2018 and sharp overall.

All of the four monitored English regions reported an increase in temp billings in December, the sharpest of which was seen in the Midlands.

December data highlighted further growth of permanent vacancies in the Midlands, with the pace of increase the fastest for three months. The rate of expansion was only mild, however, and subdued in the context of historical data.

Meanwhile, temporary vacancies also rose during December, albeit at a softer rate than November. The increase was moderate overall, but notably subdued in the context of the series long-run average and softer than that seen across the UK as a whole.

Permanent staff availability continued to decline in December, stretching the current sequence of contraction to over six-and-a-half years. Panellists associated the latest fall with continued political uncertainty. The decline, albeit sharp, was the softest for four months.

Recruiters across the Midlands continued to record an increase in permanent salaries during December. Firms suggested that the latest rise was due to a shortage of candidates, which placed upwards pressure on pay.

Neil Carberry, chief executive at the REC, said:“After the uncertainty of 2019, there are some signs of a clearer outlook for hiring in today’s survey. With a new government in place and the path ahead looking more predictable, some businesses have decided that they have waited long enough. The first increase in permanent placements for a year should give encouragement to both recruiters and employers – let’s hope this is a sign of positive things to come.

“Feedback from recruiters shows that the upcoming IR35 changes are affecting both placements and the availability of flexible workers. This is a delicate period for the jobs market, and is the worst time to push through sweeping changes to the way we tax contractors. It is right that government engages further with business on the changes, but they should also delay implementation until next year to allow time for a full, independent review and effective regulation of the umbrella sector. As it stands, the government risks damaging ethical businesses and encouraging non-compliance.”

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