S. England Permanent Staff Placements Stabilise in August

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
September 10, 2012 /

The South of England’s recruitment agencies indicated that permanent placements rose in August, albeit marginally. That represented a stabilisation following July’s fall, the first since November 2011.

Consultants’ billings from temp employment increased for the second successive month in August, the first back-to-back growth since last November. The rate of expansion strengthened slightly, but remained weak overall.

Phil Cotton, regional chairman for KPMG in the South said: “After a dismal July, the South job market rallied in August to post an increase in the number of staff taken on by businesses across the region. This bucked the national trend, which reported a continued decline in permanent staff appointments.

“Without doubt these figures are a positive indication that businesses in the South are investing in their
businesses and planning for growth.

“However business confidence remains fragile. All eyes are on the new cabinet to commit to policies to
stimulate growth and kick start the UK’s sluggish economy.”

The Midlands and the South of England were the only monitored regions to post an expansion of permanent placements in August, with London and the North both recording declines. All four regions saw a rise in temporary billings, with by far the sharpest increase registered in the Midlands. The South of England posted a weaker rise in permanent appointments than the Midlands, but outperformed the other two English regions which both posted declines. It also outperformed London and The North in terms of temp billing growth.

The number of candidates available to fill permanent job vacancies in the South of England fell for the fifth month running in August. The rate of decline was only marginal, but the current sequence is the longest since that which ended in March 2008. The South of England registered rising numbers of candidates available for temporary roles in August.

This followed the first decline in over four years in July. Moreover, the latest increase was the strongest in six months. The South of England was the only English region where the number of permanent candidates
decreased in August. Of the remaining areas, the strongest rise was seen in the North, and the weakest in the Midlands. All four regions recorded increased temporary candidate availability, led by the North. The South registered the next-largest increase in temp availability.

New starters in permanent jobs in the South of England registered a rise in salaries for the second consecutive month in August. The rate of growth was little-changed from July’s modest pace, however. Hourly rates of pay for staff in temporary/contract employment continued to rise only marginally in August. Temp wage growth has been weak throughout the past four months, but the South East still fared better than the UK-wide trend.

Permanent salaries increased across three of the four English regions, the exception being London where a marginal fall was registered. The South of England registered the fastest increase. The Midlands recorded the steepest rise in temporary pay rates, while both London and the South of England saw hourly pay decrease.

Recruitment and Employment Confederation chief executive Kevin Green says: “This month’s data shows yet again the remarkable level of resilience within the UK labour market as it continues to outperform predictions.

“The World Economic Forum highlighted that one of the UK’s key competitive advantages is our job market flexibility – and it’s clear that being one of the most flexible labour markets in Europe has helped the UK avoid the high levels of unemployment experienced elsewhere on the continent.

“Recruiters tell us the first rise in the placement of temp workers in nine months is because employers are calling on that flexibility offered by agency staff as a way to grow to meet recent increases in demand, like that seen last month in the service sector. It’s also a sign that changes to Agency Worker Regulations last year have not resulted in any significant negative impact on the market for temporary labour as some predicted they would.

“Nationwide growth in candidate availability and vacancy growth are both good indicators for a recovery, although it’s too soon to say we’re out of the woods yet.”


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