Firms struggling to fill vacancies, says REC

Firms are struggling to find candidates to fill job vacancies as demand for staff reached a 21-month peak last month and Brexit begins to bite, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

The Markit/REC Report on Jobs – published today – reports the sharpest increase in staff appointments for over two years. The report says the availability of permanent and temporary candidates continued to decline during May. While the number of candidates for permanent roles dropped at the quickest pace since August 2015, the deterioration in temporary candidate availability softened slightly since April.

This has led to increases in average starting salaries, rising at the quickest rate in three months during May. Hourly rates of pay for temporary/contract staff also rose sharply, despite the rate of growth softening since April.

There was greater demand for permanent and short-term staff in the public sector than in the private sector. Demand for staff was across all sectors, with engineering being top, followed closely by Nursing/Medical/Care. The slowest increase in demand was seen for construction workers.

Tom Hadley, REC Director of Policy says: “The challenges facing the next government are stark. Demand for staff is the strongest in almost two years, but the number of people available to take those jobs has plummeted. Official data shows unemployment has dropped to the lowest level since 1975, and EU citizens are leaving the UK in droves. Employers seeking to fill vacancies are running out of options.

“Skill shortages are causing headaches in many sectors. The NHS for example is becoming increasingly reliant on short-term cover to fill gaps in hospital rotas because there aren’t enough nurses to take permanent roles. Meanwhile, the shortage of people with cyber security skills is a particular concern in many businesses in the wake of the recent high-profile WannaCry attacks.

“Whichever party forms the next government must focus on improving the employability of our young people and boosting inclusion for underrepresented groups. Alongside this, these figures clearly show that in many sectors we need more, not fewer people so that businesses can grow and public services continue to deliver.”

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