Jobs: Rise in temp and short term work ‘may be sign of recovery’

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Employers have been taking on an increasing number of temporary and short term workers in the past few months according to a job market report released this week.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)/KPMG Report on Jobs for August showed the first rise in the placement of temp workers in nine months while permanent placements have continued to fall, albeit at a slower rate.

Workers in nursing, medical and care in the healthcare sector were the most sought-after type of employee during the month.

Some commentators see the changing labour market as a possible sign of recovery.

Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, said: “In some parts of the country, we are actually seeing a growth in the number of companies recruiting and where there is a decline it is now virtually insignificant.

“It may be slow, but perhaps we are witnessing the first signs of recovery? Temporary placements are also on the up, so the hope must be that employer confidence is returning, that they are looking to the long-term and recruiting for growth.”

And REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “The World Economic Forum highlighted that one of the UK’s key competitive advantages is our job market flexibility – and it’s clear that being one of the most flexible labour markets in Europe has helped the UK avoid the high levels of unemployment experienced elsewhere on the continent.

“Recruiters tell us the first rise in the placement of temp workers in nine months is because employers are calling on that flexibility offered by agency staff as a way to grow to meet recent increases in demand, like that seen last month in the service sector. It’s also a sign that changes to Agency Worker Regulations last year have not resulted in any significant negative impact on the market for temporary labour as some predicted they would.

“Continued growth in candidate availability and vacancy growth are both good indicators for a recovery, although it’s too soon to say we’re out of the woods yet. We think the fall in people placed into permanent work for the past three months is down to a certain ‘stickiness’ in the recruitment process – employer confidence remains fragile and hiring decisions are taking longer than in boom times, slowing down the process of getting people into jobs.”

The Report on Jobs is a monthly publication produced by Markit on behalf of the REC and KPMG. It draws on survey data provided by recruitment consultancies.