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• Permanent placements by recruitment firms up 33% year-on-year while vacancies increase by 18%
• Finance and engineering sectors lead the way, up 30% and 41% respectively
• Recruitment firms make 10% more temporary and contract placements year-on-year
• Salaries mirror sector growth with yearly increases for finance and engineering professionals up 7% and 2% respectively

Jobs, business optimism and economic output may have all reached new record highs this month according to new survey data from APSCo. Its latest research, validated by Staffing Industry Analysts, shows that permanent placements in the professional recruitment sectors are up 33% on last year and have now reached a new survey high. This comes as commentators are suggesting that the UK’s economy has now grown past its 2008 peak (ONS) and new data shows that business confidence is at its highest level for 22 years. News of this triple peak confirms growth in the UK now has considerable momentum behind it and should be sustained for the foreseeable future.

Engineering and finance lead the way

Beneath this headline figure, the latest data from APSCo reveals that the engineering and finance & accounting sectors have shown the most impressive growth. Across the latter, permanent placements and vacancies have increased at a spectacular rate – by 39% and 24% respectively when compared to the same period last year. The engineering sector shows similar impressive growth with placements jumping 41% and vacancies up 30% year-on-year.

Professional recruitment firms are playing a critical role in enabling rapid growth

Professional recruitment firms are performing a critical role in providing the labour market flexibility and access to rare skills that makes rapid growth possible. The importance of this role is reflected in the emergence of recruitment as a popular and rewarding career destination for top graduates. APSCo’s new paid internship programme is proving extremely successful and will help the profession carry on being a key player in the continuing ‘war for talent’ that was highlighted, once again, by recent researchfrom Jaguar Land Rover and the Labour Party which showed that UK companies risk losing out to their international rivals unless the engineering skills shortage is tackled.

Temporary and contract workforce continues to expand

APSCo’s data also reveals that organisations are showing no signs of reducing their use of contract and temporary staff. Placements and vacancies have increased (10% and 9% respectively) across all professional sectors which is indicative of not only a reliance on contingent staffing to plug skills gaps in certain sectors, but also the increased use of contractors as a matter of course in today’s flexible employment market.

Salaries dip with noticeable exceptions

APSCo’s data shows that, while median salaries across all professional sectors have decreased slightly year-on-year (-1.7%), there are noticeable exceptions. Salaries within the finance & accounting and engineering sectors, for example, have risen compared to the same time last year (2% and 7% respectively). This can be attributed, in part, to employers using financial incentives to entice individuals at a time when demand is outstripping supply.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo comments:

“A ‘triple peak’ in the latest key economic indicators is fantastic news and confirms that there is now real momentum behind the UK’s current growth. Our data also highlights the pivotal role that professional recruitment firms are playing in providing the labour market flexibility that makes rapid expansion possible. This is being reflected in the popularity of APSCo’s new paid internship programme. Clearly top talent is increasingly seeing recruitment as an exciting and rewarding profession that also plays a critical role in enabling the UK’s future success.

John Nurthen, Executive Director International Development for Staffing Industry Analysts, which compiles the report for APSCo, comments:
“The data for this month does seem to suggest that the professional recruitment market is firing on all cylinders. Recruiters are now having to cope with the novelty of escalating demand after many years just focused on beating down costs. Because of the lessons learnt during the downturn, the recruitment industry today is more efficient and more effective than the one that entered the financial crisis in 2008 and is in a much better position to capitalise on these positive trends.”

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