Upturn in demand for temporary workers in the UK

12 May 2017

According to a report on jobs by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), growth in permanent staff placements slowed to its weakest for seven months during April.

The Markit/REC Report on provides a comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies.

Key findings from the report show:

  • Although growth in permanent staff placements slowed to its weakest for seven months during April, it was still solid overall, however in contrast, temporary placements increased at a sharp and accelerated pace that was the fastest seen in 2017 so far.

  • The availability of permanent and temporary candidates declined at sharper rates in April, with the former posting the quicker pace of reduction. Notably, both categories saw the steepest deteriorations in candidate availability for 16 months.

  • Although growth in permanent starting salaries edged down to a four-month low in April, it remained sharp overall and stronger than the series average. Meanwhile, hourly pay rates for short-term staff increased at the sharpest pace in 2017 so far.

  • Vacancies continued to rise markedly in April for both permanent and temporary/contract staff. This was despite growth in demand for both types of staff softening slightly since the previous month.

  • Demand for staff declined across the public sector. Demand for private sector permanent and temporary staff rose sharply despite the rates of expansion easing to four- and three-month lows, respectively. 

  • Engineering was the most in-demand category for permanent staff in April, closely followed by IT & computing and nursing/medical/care. Nonetheless, strong expansions were seen across the board at the start of the second quarter.

  • Nursing/medical/care continued to top the table, while hotels and catering placed second in the overall rankings.

Commenting on the report, REC Chief Executive Kevin Green,

"…Every shortage has wider implications, for example the exceptional reputation UK engineering enjoys globally is at risk because employers can’t find people with the skills they need.

One thing is for certain, if British business is to thrive then whichever party forms a government after 8 June needs to address the ever-shrinking pool of suitable candidates by investing in skills and career advice for UK jobseekers, as well as safeguarding access to the workers we need from abroad.

It is vital that the future immigration system is agile enough to reflect and adapt to evolving labour market needs.”