Professional vacancies at year-long high

Professional vacancy numbers in the UK recovered from a year-long slump caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, to record substantial increases in March, according to the latest report from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

Not only did the monthly 'Recruitment Trends' report show a month-on-month increase of 17 per cent in permanent vacancies in March and a 23 per cent rise in contract roles, the figures also recorded the first year-on-year rise since the pandemic hit.The data, provided by growth analytics platform cube19, revealed that annual percentage changes have shown substantial increases, with permanent roles up six per cent and contract vacancies up 29 per cent on the same period in 2020.APSCo said the findings were in line with research from accountancy firm BDO last week, which found that more than 80 per cent of mid-tier businesses in the UK intended to hire more staff over the next six months, with more than half planning on recruiting permanent staff.The APSCo report also showed "promising signs for the health of the recruitment sector from a revenue perspective" with permanent placement sales up 28 per cent month-on-month.Daily tracking data revealed a six per increase in contract vacancies in the second half of March and a 4.5 per cent rise in permanent vacancies "which bodes well for post Easter hiring activity".Additionally, the data revealed that permanent placements were up 23 per cent and contract ones up 9.5 per cent in the last week of March compared to the beginning of the month.Ann Swain, APSCo chief executive, said: “These figures show that the steady improvements we have seen over recent months are now beginning to gather pace and as we slowly come out of lockdown and follow the government roadmap towards a ‘new normal’, we hope to see these figures remain on a positive upward trend."I am sure we will see some fluctuations as businesses face up to the challenges of a post-pandemic economic landscape but all the signs from this latest dataset point towards increasing light at the end of what has been a very long dark tunnel.”Joe McGuire, chief revenue officer of cube19, added: “It is great to see the market responding so well in preparation for easing of restrictions. Not only are the month-on-month and year-on-year numbers really positive, but placements and sales are the highest they have been since the APSCo Trends Snapshot started back in 2017."It’s nice to see the continued hard work across the industry being rewarded and I’m hopeful that continued job growth will translate to increased placements.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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