Sharp increase in hiring activity

There was a sharp increase in hiring activity across the Midlands at the close of the fourth quarter of 2020.

Both permanent placements and temp billings rose markedly, amid reports that companies were filling vacancies following pandemic related hiring freezes.

Meanwhile, candidate availability continued to improve, although the rate of increase for both permanent and short-term staff eased on the month.

Permanent starting salaries were broadly stable in December, according to the latest KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs: Midlands, while the rate of temp wage inflation was the quickest since February amid a rapid upturn in demand for short-term staff.

Following a mild reduction in the previous survey period, the number of permanent staff appointments across the Midlands rose during December. Moreover, the rate of increase was elevated in the context of the series history and sharp.

Companies were now filling vacancies following coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) related hiring freezes, according to respondents.

Across the four monitored English regions, the Midlands registered the sharpest increase in permanent placements in December.

Kate Holt, people consulting partner at KPMG, said: “As anticipated, news of a vaccine has helped to boost business confidence across the Midlands, and this has had a knock-on effect on hiring.

“What’s encouraging to see, alongside the increase in demand for temp staff, is the rise in permanent job placements, which suggests that businesses are hiring with the long-term in mind.

“However, the recent lockdown is sure to fuel economic uncertainty, alongside preparing for the new relationship with the EU and this will be weighing on the minds of business leaders and recruiters. That being said, there is hope for businesses and jobseekers as financial support from government continues and the vaccine rollout progresses.”