Key points

  • Growth of staff appointments held back by uncertain outlook and skill shortages
  • Availability of permanent and contract workers continues to fall sharply
  • Starting salaries increase at second-quickest rate since November 2015

Sharp growth in staff appointments
Growth in permanent staff placements remained robust at the start of the final quarter of 2017, despite the rate of increase edging down to a six-month low. Contract billings also rose at the
softest pace since April, though growth remained comfortably above the survey average.

Demand for staff remains sharp
Staff vacancies rose sharply for permanent and contract roles during September. This was despite growth of demand softening for the second successive month across both categories.

Availability continued to decline sharply…
A further marked decline in the availability of contract and permanent workers, with the latter noting the steeper rate of reduction.

…leading to a further increase on pay
Starting salaries rose sharply overall, with the rate of inflation quickening to its second-strongest since November 2015. In contrast, contract pay rates rose at a pace that, though marked, was the weakest since March.

Staff appointments

Permanent placements growth edges down to six-month low
September survey data signalled a further rise in permanent placements. The pace of expansion remained sharp, despite easing for the fourth successive month to its weakest since
April. According to panellists, growing staff vacancies and strong underlying demand for permanent workers underpinned the latest increase.
At the same time, some respondents noted that a shortage of suitable candidates and concerns over the UK economic outlook had dampened the overall pace of expansion.
Scotland registered the quickest upturn in permanent placements in September, followed by the Midlands. London meanwhile saw a solid increase after a marginal drop in September.

Further steep increase in contract billings
Billings received from the employment of contract workers increased in October, as has been the case in each month since May 2013. Despite easing for the second month in a row, the rate of growth remained sharp overall and broadly in line with the average seen over the current period of expansion. A number of monitored recruitment agencies commented on strong demand for contract workers at the start of the fourth quarter.
Contract billings rose sharply across all monitored UK regions, led by the North of England. The softest, albeit still marked, increase was seen in the Midlands.


Further sharp increase in demand for staff
Both permanent and temporary staff saw demand for their services soften slightly for the second month in a row, but growth of demand remained robust for both type of workers.

Staff availability

Availability of permanent staff
Permanent staff availability continued to deteriorate markedly at the start of the fourth quarter. This was despite the rate of decline easing to the least marked for six months. Nearly 36% of respondents noted a reduction in permanent candidate numbers, compared to less than 9% that saw an increase. The sharpest drop in permanent candidate availability continued to be seen in the South of England. The softest, but still marked, fall in availability was registered for London.

Availability of contract staff
Recruitment consultants signalled a reduction in contract staff availability for the fifty-second month in a row in September.
Although the rate of deterioration softened, the decline remained sharp overall. On a regional basis, all monitored areas noted marked drops in contract worker availability


Permanent salaries
Starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs increased further during September. Notably, the rate of pay inflation quickened slightly and was the second-strongest recorded since November 2015 (after August 2017). Anecdotal evidence suggested that candidate shortages and strong competition for staff had driven up starting salaries in the latest survey period. Data indicated that rates of pay inflation were sharp across all monitored regions, with the steepest increase seen in the South of England.

Contract pay rates
September data signalled a further marked rise in contract pay rates, despite the rate of inflation softening to a seven-month low. Some recruitment consultants mentioned that higher rates of pay reflected strong demand for contract workers. London registered the fastest increase in hourly pay rates, though rates of inflation weakened across all monitored regions since the previous month.


About Langley James

Langley James was founded in 1999 by James Toovey, a highly respected recruitment industry professional.  James wanted to provide something unique: a bespoke recruitment service which was founded on service excellence.  With offices in London and Chester, we are now providing our recruitment services throughout the world and over the last 18 years have worked with some of the most respected companies in the world.

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