Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

UK Report on Jobs: Permanent staff appointments increase at weakest pace for four months

The IHS Markit/REC Report on Jobs – published today – provides the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies

Key points:

  • Softer rise in perm placements contrasts with steeper increase in temp billings
  • Growth of demand for staff picks up for first time in nine months
  • Steeper decline in overall candidate availability leads to sharper rises in pay


The IHS Markit/REC Report on Jobs – published today – provides the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies. 

Permanent placements growth softens to four-month low

The number of people placed into permanent job roles continued to rise markedly in April. That said, the pace of expansion was the softest seen in 2018 so far. In contrast, growth of temp billings picked up from March’s 13-month low.

Candidate availability continues to fall markedly

Candidate availability for both permanent and temporary roles declined further at the start of the second quarter. Furthermore, the rates of reduction quickened to three- and five-month records, respectively.

Demand for staff strengthens

Growth of overall job vacancies picked up to a three-month high in April. Permanent staff demand grew at a sharper pace compared to the previous month, while short-term staff vacancies expanded at a slightly softer (but still marked) pace.

Pay growth gathers pace

Starting salaries for permanent workers continued to rise sharply in April, with the rate of inflation picking up from March. Concurrently, rates of pay for contract/temporary staff rose to the greatest extent for two years.

Regional variation

The Midlands registered the strongest rise in permanent staff appointments in April, while the weakest was seen in London.

Scotland continued to record the steepest increase in temp billings when comparing all five monitored UK regions,  while the North of England recorded the slowest.

Sector variation

Recruitment consultancies indicated that private sector demand for staff continued to rise in April, with growth of both permanent and temporary vacancies picking up since March. 

Demand was also higher in the public sector, with steeper increases in vacancies signalled for both permanent and temporary staff. That said, rates of growth continued to lag behind those seen for private sector staff.

The vast majority of monitored job categories registered higher permanent staff vacancies during April. The steepest rates of growth were registered across the Engineering and IT & Computing sectors. Retail was the only category to record lower demand for permanent workers.

Blue Collar and Engineering were the most in-demand categories for temporary workers during April. Nonetheless, all of the remaining job sectors noted higher temp staff vacancies. The slowest growth was signalled for construction.

REC director of policy Tom Hadley says:

“Following the recent headlines about high street closures, it’s unsurprising to see demand for retail staff falling this month. With consumers increasingly shopping online, it’s a good time for retail workers to think about how their skills translate into other areas within the business - for example, recruiters say there’s huge demand for staff in IT, and there is also a shortage of order pickers and packers. Helping people make career transitions will become increasingly important in this fast changing business and employment landscape.

“Demand for staff is still on the rise in every other sector, but candidate availability keeps dropping. Our data shows that employers are paying more to attract the right people into their vacancies. For individuals, now is a good time to look for a new job, as you are in a strong position to negotiate higher pay.

“For employers, the challenge is to stay ahead of the competition to maintain and enhance your workforce. This is about more than just pay, it is about providing progression opportunities and a positive workplace culture. As recruitment gets harder the only solution for employers is to get better at attracting and retaining the right skills and staff."