Candidate availability has fallen at one of the fastest rates on record over the course of the past month.
Reduced candidate availability was linked by respondents to the latest KPMG and Recruitment and Employment Confederation UK Report on Jobs to a combination of high demand, labour shortages, fewer foreign workers and hesitancy among employees to switch or seek out new roles.
The survey flagged a further marked rise in hiring activity at the start of the final quarter of the year. However, growth of permanent staff appointments and temp billings fell to a six-month low, as candidate shortages affected recruiters’ ability to place new hires.
A number of recruiters mentioned that candidate shortages had affected their ability to fill roles. The rate of deterioration did not match August’s all-time record, but was nonetheless the fifth-sharpest seen since the survey began in October 1997.
Job seekers need to feel confident that the skills they’ve gained in one sector are valued in another” – Claire Warnes, KPMG
Starting salaries and temp wages increased at the quickest rates seen in over 24 years of data collection, as companies offered higher pay to attract and secure staff.
Out of the four monitored regions in England, only the Midlands noted a stronger rise in permanent placements, as rates of increase slowed elsewhere. Nonetheless, growth remained sharp across all four areas.
Vacancies continued to rise more sharply in the private than public sector in October, with the steepest increase in demand seen for permanent staff in the private sector, found the report. The slowest upturn in demand was in permanent workers in the public sector, though growth remained sharp overall.
Demand for permanent workers rose across all 10 monitored job categories at the start of the fourth quarter, with hotels and catering seeing the steepest increase in demand for permanent staff.
The north of England saw the sharpest rise in temp billings of all four monitored English regions.
The nursing and medical sectors topped the rankings for temporary staff demand in October, followed by hotel and catering. Recruitment agencies reported a further fall in the temp staff supply in October – the eighth straight month of decline. Panel members for the KPMG/REC said a general shortage of labour and fewer EU workers were the main causes, with recruiters citing difficulties hiring for a broad range of sectors including hospitality, construction and IT. All four monitored English regions reported rapid drops in temporary worker availability, led by the south of England.
Claire Warnes, head of education, skills and productivity at KPMG UK, said employee hesitance over switching roles was a factor limiting candidate availability: “While it’s encouraging to see hiring activity increase in October, the recovery was at the softest rate recorded in six months because of the deterioration of candidate availability. Employees are hesitant to switch roles and sectors, which could impact the bounce-back recruiters have experienced since the easing of pandemic restrictions.
“Job seekers need to feel confident that the skills and qualifications they’ve gained in one sector are valued in another. That’s why employers and government must urgently invest in training and development if they are to attract a wider range of candidates into these high demand sectors.”
Kate Shoesmith, deputy CEO of the REC, said it was important to note that the salary rises were not universal. “Recruiters tell us that candidates in some sectors and regions have been able to secure a substantial pay rise,” she said. “But many employers can’t afford to offer this. As we move into the next stage of recovery, it’s vital the government put measures in place that will help companies to invest and grow, stimulate the UK’s productivity and support the levers that help those furthest from the jobs market into work.”