Abrupt Fall in S. England Permanent Staff Placements in Q3

Kimberly Watson, Editor in Chief
August 08, 2012 /

The South of England’s recruitment agencies indicated decreased permanent placements for the first time in eight months in July. Moreover, the
rate of decline was the steepest since July 2009.

Consultants’ billings from temp employment rose for the first time in six months in July. That said, the rate of growth was only marginal. The South of England recorded a weaker fall in permanent appointments than the UK average in July, with the pace of decline broadly matching that
seen in the North. The steepest decline in appointments was in London.

Apart from the Midlands, the South of England was the only other region to post a rise in temporary billings, while the North recorded the fastest reduction.

The current sequence of decline in the number of candidates available to fill permanent job vacancies in the South of England was extended to four
months in July. The rate of reduction accelerated, and was the second-fastest since December 2010.

The South of England registered falling numbers of candidates available for temporary roles in July. This was the first decline since March 2008, but the rate was only marginal.

The South of England was the only English region where the number of permanent candidates decreased in July. Of the remaining areas, the
strongest rise was seen in London, and the weakest in the North. The South was also the only English region to record a fall in temp supply.

In contrast, temp availability rose rapidly in both London and the North, while the Midlands also registered a marked increase.

New starters in permanent jobs in the South of England registered a rise in salaries in July. That followed a fall in June that was only the second registered since November 2009. The rate of salary growth was only moderate, however, and weaker than the long-run series average.

Hourly rates of pay for staff in temporary/contract employment rose
in July. The latest rate of growth was only fractional, however, and unchanged from June. Temp wages have increased 29 times in the past 31 months, albeit at generally weak rates.

Permanent salaries increased across all four monitored regions, with the fastest rise seen in the Midlands. The South recorded the second-weakest
rate of salary growth among the English regions covered, albeit a stronger increase than the UK average.

Meanwhile, only the South posted inflation of temporary pay rates. Both London and the North saw falls in temporary pay, with the sharper decline posted in the capital.

Phil Cotton, regional chairman for KPMG in the South said: “Only a few weeks ago there was an audible sigh of relief across the UK’s workforce as official employment figures indicated signs of improvement.

“However, my concern is that any sigh of relief may be mistaken for a groan of exasperation as the number of permanent staff taken on in the South of England fell this month, which could suggest there is still a high degree of uncertainty in the region.

“However, delve deeper and it appears that businesses could be struggling to find the right candidate for the job. The number of vacancies advertised increased this month, while recruitment agencies reported a wide range of skills shortages in the candidate pool – from engineering to business intelligence.

“But the summer is always a traditionally quiet period. The real story of recovery will only start to emerge in the autumn, after the excitement of the Olympics fades and people return to work after their
summer breaks.”


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