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Latest jobs data: Demand for contractors slips but permanent placements up

Professional recruitment firms reported that overall vacancy numbers for contract roles dipped by 10% in October 2017, while demand for permanent professionals remained largely stable, increasing by 0.2% year-on-year, according to new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo)

  • Contract vacancies slip 10%
  • Permanent placements up 5%
  • Number of contractors out on assignment down 8%
  • Permanent vacancies increase by 0.2% year-on-year
  • Average salaries up 0.4% year-on-year

Demand for contractors dips

Professional recruitment firms reported that overall vacancy numbers for contract roles dipped by 10% in October 2017, while demand for permanent professionals remained largely stable, increasing by 0.2% year-on-year, according to new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

APSCo’s data, which focuses on professional recruitment, reveals that demand for contractors decreased across every one of the trade association’s core sector groups. Vacancies within engineering, for example, slipped by just 2%, while demand within IT, finance and marketing fell more significantly (by 10%, 15% and 25% respectively).

Permanent placements up

While new openings for permanent roles increased by just 0.2% in October 2017, the number of professionals placed that month increased by 5% year-on-year. Much of this strength can be attributed to the finance and engineering sectors (where placements increased by 17% and 7% respectively).

Fewer contractors out

The overall number of contractors out on assignment, meanwhile, dipped by 8% during the same period. This can largely be attributed to a 30% year-on-year fall in IT professionals working on a contract basis during this time.

Despite this overall dip, the number of contractors out on assignment within engineering and finance increased year-on-year in October 2017 (by 14% and 6% respectively).  

Average salaries stable

APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors remain largely stable, decreasing by 0.2% year-on-year. This figure is characterised by notable fluctuations in terms of sector, with financial services and engineering, for example, recording uplifts of 3.8% and 2.9% respectively.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo comments:

“While it’s encouraging that permanent placements remained stable in October, hiring activity in certain sectors is booming. Despite the Bank of England’s prediction that Brexit could cost London 75,000 finance jobs, for example, both permanent and contract hiring in the City remain stubbornly strong. And at time when UK manufacturing order books are at their strongest level since 1988, engineering is also performing particularly well, with the number of contractors out on assignment up 14% year-on-year.”

“The overall fall in contract placements can largely be attributed to a 30% drop in IT assignments. This may, in part, be in response to changes to rules around off payroll working in the public sector which were introduced in April. However, news that the government will not automatically extend these reforms to the private sector without careful consideration should ensure the wider contract market remains strong in the near future.”

Adam Pode for Staffing Industry Analysts says:

“We are currently seeing a mixed picture in the market.  If you have the skills they need, then companies want you on a permanent basis”. 

www.apsco.org