The growth of staff appointments hit a two-and-a-half year high in September, the latest research reveals.
According to the monthly Report on Jobs, the number of people placed in permanent jobs by recruitment consultancies rose for the fourth successive month in September, as did the average weekly billings received from the employment of temporary and contract staff. In both cases, the rate of growth was the strongest since February 2001.
The report for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and Deloitte reveals that rising workloads and improved business confidence were the main factors underlying the strengthening demand.
Demand rose markedly for all types of staff, with the exception of temporary executive/professionals, which continued to register a marginal decline.
Further evidence of rising demand for staff was highlighted by a rise in national press recruitment advertising for the second month in a row in August.
Commenting on the latest findings, Brett Walsh, head of UK human capital at Deloitte, was optimistic that the study reflects an improvement in economic prospects for UK employers.
"The latest Report on Jobs provides welcome news that employment growth is strengthening as the economic recovery in the UK gathers pace and shows signs of greater sustainability," he said.
"However, with the war for talent clearly picking up, firms are already finding pockets of skill shortages which, if sustained, will add to recruitment difficulties, and exert upward pressure on wages and salaries over the coming months."
The Report on Jobs, based on responses from 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies, also finds that strong demand for staff, coupled with certain skills shortages, placed upward pressure on pay rates in September.
The rate of salary increases awarded to those in permanent jobs remained modest, but was still the fastest since June 2002.
By Ben Willmott