Jobs data published today points to a modest uplift in the number of permanent appointments, although figures relating to temporary placements and pay offerings suggest that the job market is still experiencing difficulties.
The Report on Jobs, published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and professional services firm KPMG, is compiled using data provided by recruitment consultancies. The latest edition, released today, found that permanent appointments rose for the first time in four months, albeit at a modest rate.
However, this small piece of good news was offset by data which highlighted temporary and contract billings falling for the second month in a row. According to the report, a number of respondents cited the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations as a reason for this fall.
In addition, salaries for permanent positions rose only marginally in January and at a much slower pace than the long- term average. Hourly rates of pay for temporary/contract staff increased modestly following a slight decline in December.
Respondents also reported that the growth in overall demand for staff eased to its weakest level for 27 months. Data suggests that engineering and construction workers were the most sought after in the latest survey period, in contrast to declines in demand for hospitality and catering staff.
Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: "This month's report highlights that there are glimmers of hope for the UK jobs market with permanent placements increasing for the first time in four months. This is the first positive indicator for some time that employers are looking to hire staff despite the ongoing weakness of the economy.
"It is particularly encouraging that six out of eight sectors surveyed show growth in demand, including engineering, IT and office professionals. The report also follows better than expected services data from the Purchasing Managers' Index last Friday, which suggests that confidence is growing among consumers as well as businesses.
"A major challenge in the jobs market is the disconnect between what employers are looking for and what jobseekers can offer. Better careers guidance is part of the solution, as is increased use of apprenticeships to get young people into employment with vocational skills development."