Candidate availability hits a 16-month low, says REC

Engineering was the most in-demand category for permanent staff, according to the REC
Engineering was the most in-demand category for permanent staff, according to the REC

The UK jobs market has experienced its steepest drop in candidate availability for 16 months, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s latest Report on Jobs.

The recruitment industry body found that the availability of both permanent and temporary candidates declined at sharper rates in April, the steepest deterioration in availability since the start of 2016.

At the same time, the number of vacancies continued to rise for both permanent and temporary/contract staff, although the rate of growth softened slightly.

Nursing and medical or care staff topped the list of the most in-demand temporary workers, followed closely by hotel and catering. Engineering was the most in-demand category for permanent staff during April.

Demand for staff rose most sharply in the private sector. Vacancies for permanent public-sector staff, by contrast, declined for the second month in a row. Demand for temporary workers in the public sector also fell slightly, for the first time.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “We have the lowest unemployment rate since 2005, and people already in work are becoming more hesitant about moving jobs amid Brexit uncertainty.

“Meanwhile, the weakening pound and lack of clarity about future immigration rules is putting off some EU nationals from taking up roles in the UK.

“As a result, candidate availability is at a 16-month low and recruiters are flagging a shortage of suitable applicants for more than 60 different roles from cleaner to accountant.”

He added that the reputation of some industries, such as engineering, was at risk because employers failed to find the skills that they needed.

Green said: “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.”

Low availability of candidates led to increases in salaries for permanent staff and higher temporary/contract pay rates. For the latter, the rate of inflation was the sharpest seen in the year-to-date, according to the REC.

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