Latest employment data: Is the UK’s hiring crisis starting to stabilise?

The data, provided by the global leader in software for the staffing industry, Bullhorn, revealed a slight month-on-month dip in the number of new vacancies for both permanent and contract roles, which were down 11% and 12% respectively in February.

Despite this slowdown, the annual picture continues to show the pressure on the country’s resources, with permanent job numbers increasing 22% between February 2021 and February 2022. Contract vacancies were also up 26% during this timeframe.

According to APSCo’s statistics, permanent placements rose 13% last month following January’s 104% spike in vacancies, which is indicative of the continued pressure on the staffing sector. Year-on-year comparisons also continue to show significant growth with permanent placements up 62% between February 2021 and February 2022, while contract placements also rose year on year, up by 15%.

Despite the slight slowdown in vacancy numbers in February, APSCo has warned that the UK’s current skills landscape is not fit for purpose in the modern world, with ongoing skills shortages putting future economic growth at risk. In its Access to Skills and Talent Public Policy Plan, the trade association for the professional recruitment sector called on the Government to rethink training initiatives and visa routes for highly skilled international talent to support a dynamic, global and flexible labour market.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, said, “While we are now beginning to see the inevitable slowdown of the intense activity of the last few months, we are still in a situation where demand for skills is far exceeding supply in professional sectors.

“The professional recruitment sector has a vital part to play in unearthing the hard-to-find talent needed by organisations across the UK and indeed internationally. We continue to meet with Government to demonstrate the value of a globally focused recruitment sector, a globally mobile talent pool of independent contractors and the benefits of introducing a work visa for self-employed highly skilled contractors and we are lobbying hard for the expansion of the scope of highly skilled independent visa routes.”

Joe McGuire, Sales & Strategy Director, Analytics at Bullhorn, added, “Placements continue to track well and with job rates at such high levels already, it is not unexpected to see slight dips every so often. Demand for candidates remains extremely high so when looking for meaningful changes in the direction of demand, this should be done over longer periods of time.”

Rupert Gaster, Founder and MD of Procurement Heads, said, “I echo the thoughts of Ann Swain with regards supply and demand in professional services.

“As experienced procurement and supply chain recruiters, we have seen many months of high demand for the best interim and permanent talent, and I believe recruiters like ourselves are playing a pivotal role in advising organisations that are struggling to hire on how to best way to tackle these challenges head-on.

“We are also advocating innovative approaches to talent problems, which is why we have strategically partnered with a number of organisations so that we can offer our clients a variety of solutions.

“With the profiles of procurement and supply chain having never been higher, due to Brexit, the pandemic and now the tragic situation in Ukraine, I can’t see recruitment demands in these areas dipping any time soon.”

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