Permanent staff appointments decline as Brexit-related uncertainty intensifies.
This month's KPMG and REC UK Report on Jobs reports similar findings to what we have seen over previous months. Permanent placements have fallen at the quickest pace since 2016 and the availability of candidates continues to decline sharply. Though unemployment rates are at their lowest, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is taking its toll on the UK labour market. “Brexit has been sapping business confidence for months, and now it is causing the jobs market to grind to a halt. With unclear trading conditions ahead, many companies have decided to hit the pause button on new hires and reduce their dependency on temporary appointments", says Vice Chair at KPMG, James Stewart.
Permanent staff appointments across the UK fell for the second time in three months in March. Panellists suggested the biggest factor weighing on hiring was Brexit-related uncertainty, which had reportedly led to recruitment freezes and delays to decision making. Candidate shortages were also noted as having dampened permanent staff appointments at the end of the first quarter.
There was a softer rise in temporary billings this month. Growth was generally linked to relatively strong demand for temporary workers, while there were also reports of greater usage of contract staff due to low availability of permanent workers.
The availability of candidates continued to fall sharply in March, with the rate of contraction quickening slightly since February. Notably, the pace of reduction remained much quicker than the long-run series trend.
Temporary/Contract Pay Rates
Hourly rates of pay for staff in temporary/contract employment rose further at the end of the first quarter. Though solid, the rate of increase weakened for the fourth month running and was the slowest recorded for exactly two years. A number of respondents commented that wages rose in line with general market rates.
Demand for Staff
IT & Computing and Engineering topped the rankings for permanent staff demand at the end of the first quarter. Increased vacancies were also seen across the other monitored sectors, with the exception of Retail.
Nursing/Medical/Care saw by far the strongest increase in demand for temporary workers during March, with Hotel & Catering in second place. However, Executive & Professional and Retail both saw temp vacancies fall in the latest survey period.