January 2020 saw a massive spike in demand for talent with permanent vacancies up 87 per cent month-on-month while contract vacancies also rose by 84 per cent. That’s according to the latest monthly Recruitment Trends Snapshot report from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) in conjunction with growth analytics platform cube19.
While this represents a huge uptick it should be seen in the context of a December which saw not only the normal seasonal downturn but also uncertainty around the late General Election which put the brakes on all but crucial hiring. Year-on-year the picture is more stable with permanent vacancies remaining stable and an increase of 4.6 per cent in contract vacancies suggesting that last year employers took a business as usual approach to hiring despite the ever evolving economic climate.
Ongoing skill shortages
Permanent and contract placements were also up year-on-year by 11.4 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively with recruitment forms reporting a tight candidate market and ongoing skill shortages across all professionals sectors.
This aligns with reports from the British Chambers of Commerce which state that more than seven in ten companies reported hiring difficulties in the final three months of 2019. However, month on month placements jump to an increase of 35 per cent and almost five per cent respectively, reflecting the usual seasonal delay in start dates for new roles.
Salaries soften, revenue rises
Salaries for permanent roles fell 2.6 per cent year-on-year and 5 per cent month-on-month as businesses watch their purse strings amid Brexit uncertainty. Despite this, the recruitment sector remained resilient, as recruiters reported 40 per cent increased revenue from permanent placements year-on-year, indicating a marked increase in sales volumes.
“After a slow December which was heavily impacted by political uncertainty, we’ve seen a welcome rebound in hiring activity,” said Ann Swain, CEO, APSCo. “Skills shortages are rife, which can only mean increased opportunities for recruiters and while the government has introduced a National Skills Fund as a way of growing our own talent to mitigate talent gaps in the future, access to skilled professionals from Europe and beyond must be maintained.”
Jo McGuire, Global Sales Director at cube19 added: “Thankfully, it looks like the clouds are beginning to clear as we move away from Brexit. After years of political stalling there appears, at last, to be a purpose and direction back in the economy. With that in mind, after the December blip, 2020 could well be a bumper year for the recruitment sector with a return to financial consistency as businesses take the blinkers off with regards to spending and re-engage with hiring.”