• Permanent Vacancies and placements down by 1%
• Temporary Roles up by average of 0.3%
While there has been good news about general employment levels in recent weeks, with the ONS reporting an unemployment rate of 7.8% well under the EU average, it is the professional sector in areas such as finance and IT which is still suffering. The latest data from The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) reveals a drop in the number of available jobs and placements since the beginning of the year of around 1%.
However, APSCo says that there are early signs of a stabilisation of the decline in the temporary and contract market with both vacancies and placements showing small increases of 0.4% and 0.3% respectively since the beginning of the year. This is borne out by ONS figures which says that over a third of new jobs within the economy are classed as temporary.
Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo says: “While one swallow does not make a summer, this latest data does seem to suggest a slight thawing of the bleak conditions experienced by professional job seekers over recent years.
“While the year on year figures are still fairly grim for permanent vacancies which were down by almost 8%, temporary placements were up by 4.5% and this trend appears to be continuing.”
“Additionally, it is important to recognise that temporary placements within the professional sectors such as engineering, IT and finance do not equate to short term cover assignments but rather to longer term contract and project work offering not only a viable alternative to those seeking permanent employment but also a great deal of flexibility to both employers and employees.”
Regions reporting skill shortages
While permanent vacancies have been falling, the data suggests that the drop in demand is regionally focussed with London and the South East recording the biggest falls in permanent vacancies (4%) and the regions reporting slight increases.
In the finance and accounting sector, where permanent vacancies have been following a downward trend falling again by almost 1% since the beginning of the year, temporary roles increased slightly. This pattern was followed in both the IT and engineering sectors. The exception to the rule was the marketing and media sector where vacancies have been increasing but placements falling pointing to an on-going skills shortage in this arena.
Continuing downward pressure on salaries
An analysis of new job vacancies undertaken for APSCo by Broadbean Technology shows that salaries in 19 out of 35 sectors have suffered decreases in pay leading to an overall median drop of 2%.
The financial services sector showed a year on year drop of just over 14%. Other sectors reporting significant falls were the public sector (13.4%); consultancy (11.1%) and defence (10.7%).
John Nurthen from Staffing Industry Analysts which compiles the data on behalf of APSCo says:
“Once again, we have seen slower demand for full-time personnel being counterbalanced by increased usage of temporary and contract workers across all professional job categories. Staffing firms have been successfully finding work for their IT contractors since the beginning of 2011 and this sector remains the most solid. Engineering contractors have also benefited from a stronger environment since the autumn and there are some signs now that finance and accounting may at last have begun to stabilise.”
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