Foreign hiring curbs worrying UK jobs market

The latest recruitment survey by IHS Markit and REC has found increases in both permanent staff placements and employee vacancies, with the highest demand in the engineering and IT sectors.

Foreign hiring curbs worrying UK jobs market
An upbeat assessment of the UK jobs market by professional recruiters has been overshadowed by a warning that a skills shortage would be exacerbated if the government imposes further restrictions on foreign workers coming to Britain.The latest survey of 400 companies by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and IHS Markit found increases last month in both permanent staff placements and employee vacancies. The rate of increase in the former was the highest since February, while the highest demand was for engineers and IT staff.Kevin Green, REC chief executive, said the biggest concern for 2017 was the increasing skills shortage. "We need engineers to deliver infrastructure projects, carers and nurses to look after our ageing population, teachers to educate our young people, and right now we are short of warehouse workers, drivers and chefs to meet demand over Christmas," he said. "Talent shortages will be exacerbated if the government imposes restrictions on people coming to the UK from abroad. This might result in businesses considering options such as offshoring or relocation abroad. This is a risk we cannot afford."Businesses have become nervous not only at the prospect of post-Brexit limits on hiring EU staff but also at additional curbs and costs being imposed on visas from the rest of the world. 

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Overall, Mr Green said the year was ending on a healthy note despite the fact that availability of staff fell last month, especially for permanent posts."The jobs market is ending the year on a high with appointments and vacancies at levels not seen since February. In all parts of the UK recruiters are reporting increasing demand, so clearly businesses continue to seek growth in their workforces," he said.However, there were considerable regional variations, particularly in permanent hiring. The North saw the strongest increase in placements while the Midlands had a slow growth. Scotland was the only region to register a month-on-month decline in hiring permanent employees.Meanwhile, the pace of temporary staff appointments also grew at a quicker pace, touching a seven-month high, while pay rates were the highest since the summer.Employment Minister Damian Hinds said, "With record levels of employment and over 750,000 vacancies available at any one time, the jobs market is in a position of strength."

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