Sustained rise in vacancies

16 Apr, 2012

acancies for highly skilled workers have rocketed by  double digits for the second consecutive month, up 17% in February following a  similar rise in January, according to research by the Association of  Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

  • Vacancies still 18% down  year-on-year
  • Up 17% month-on-month

The research shows that demand for professional-level  workers (bankers, lawyers, IT professionals etc.) has rebounded strongly since  the start of the year after a steep decline in the second half of 2011. The  growth in jobs in February suggests that the recovery in demand for  professional-level workers in January was not just a seasonal blip. APSCo points  out, however, that despite vacancies for permanent candidates jumping 17% over  the past month, they were still 18% lower than last February.

Vacancies for temps and contractors were up 11% in  February (following an 11% rise in January) but are still marginally down  year-on-year (-5%).

The research is from the APSCo Monthly Trends Report,  which analyses job vacancies and placements across the UK professional staffing  sector. The report compares data from thousands of vacancies and placements  supplied by APSCo members who place professional candidates within the  UK.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive for APSCo, comments: “The eurozone crisis  sent the market off a cliff in the second half of 2011. We are only now starting  to see green shoots return. There is normally a seasonal surge in job vacancies  in January, but for that to continue throughout February suggests a genuine  improvement in confidence feeding through to job creation.”

“Demand for  contractors and temporary workers held up quite well over the last six months as  employers put off taking on staff. With the spectre of a double dip recession  receding, employers are reviving hiring plans and are feeling much more  confident about committing to boosting permanent headcounts.”

According  to APSCo, vacancies for IT professionals have recovered strongest among the  highly skilled sectors surveyed. Vacancies for permanent candidates were up 69%  month-on-month; vacancies for contractors and temps up 57%  month-on-month.

Ann Swain says: “Demand for IT skills is generally  counter-cyclical, but vacancies plummeted at the end of last year as the  eurozone crisis sent a chill through the market. Barring another crisis, we  would expect IT to be among the strongest performing sectors for the rest of  2012.”

John Nurthen of Staffing Industry Analysts says: “One of the  persistent frustrations of the last few years has been businesses building up  cash on their balance sheets rather than investing it. This has hit IT budgets,  resulting in projects being put on ice. There are signs that business investment  is now starting to climb, which should boost demand for IT skills.”

“At  the end of last year employers were seeing candidates who scored nine or 10 out  of 10 and still hesitating to make offers. Employers are now starting to realise  that if they don’t grab that talent when it comes along, competitors  will.”

According to the Monthly Trends report, vacancies in banking and  finance in London – among the hardest hit by the eurozone crisis – are still 13%  down year-on-year, but evidence is emerging of an upturn in demand.

Ann  Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, says: “City recruiters had a pretty dire close  to 2011, but the market is now stabilising. The Greek restructuring deal seems  to have calmed nerves a little and there are signs that, while this may not be  the end of the crisis, it is hopefully the beginning of the end.”

“While  the large banks are still cautious, some of the niche trading firms and funds  are expanding their operations and scooping up talent. These firms are less  constrained over pay and bonuses, so are in a position to bring in talent which  they might not otherwise get a look at.”

Credit: onrec.com

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