Quickest upturn in permanent appointments since December 2013

The number of permanent staff appointments accelerated during April amid reports that businesses were increasingly confident about market demand as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted further.

According to the latest KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs: Midlands, temp billings also rose for the tenth month running, with the rate of increase remaining marked overall.

Demand for candidates surged higher, with permanent vacancies increasing at a survey-record pace. Meanwhile, a renewed reduction in permanent candidate numbers was signalled.

At the same time, inflationary pay pressures were evident in the Midlands labour market as both permanent salaries and hourly wage rates increased again.

The report is compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to around 100 recruitment and employment consultancies in the Midlands.

Accelerated rise in permanent placements
The rate of increase was the fastest since December 2013, and the third-highest on record (since October 1997). Panel members often linked hiring to increased market confidence as COVID-19 measures were relaxed.

At the regional level, the uptick in permanent placements in the Midlands was the strongest of all four monitored English regions.

Temporary billings in the Midlands rose for the tenth time in as many months during April. The rate of the increase softened from March’s six-year high, yet remained marked overall.
Anecdotal evidence suggested firms opted to take on temporary staff amid continued uncertainty. Temp billings also increased at the UK level in April, but the upturn was slower than that in the Midlands.

April data highlighted a record increase in the number of permanent vacancies across the Midlands. Across the four monitored English regions, the Midlands recorded the strongest upturn in permanent vacancies.

At the same time, demand for temporary staff continued to expand. Temp vacancies rose at the fastest pace since June 2015 and markedly overall.

Permanent staff availability falls for second time in three months

Recruiters in the Midlands signalled a renewed reduction in the availability of permanent staff in April. Continued uncertainty surrounding the jobs market made staff unwilling to move between roles, according to panellists. The rate of decline was modest overall and the quickest since February 2020.

Kate Holt, people consulting partner at KPMG in the Midlands, said: “Latest data shows how the easing of lockdown restrictions has boosted confidence and the knock-on effect that this is having on the jobs market across the Midlands. As the country focuses on building back from the impact of the pandemic, some businesses are pressing ahead with hiring and this is particularly notable with the increase in the number of permanent vacancies.

“However, an uptick in the number of temporary vacancies points to some Midlands’ businesses are still operating from a place of cautious optimism. Whilst there’s still an element of uncertainty, the Midlands jobs market is holding strong, particularly when compared to the other English regions. If it is to remain robust, however, both businesses and jobseekers must prioritise reskilling, upskilling and training as this will be absolutely crucial once the furlough scheme comes to an end.”