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4/13/2015 11:16:38 AM

Election worries impacting jobs growth

New survey data released by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) reveals that professional recruitment firms have seen a 21 percent rise in permanent vacancies compared to this time last year.

Weighed against the annual increase in employment opportunities, the survey also finds that month-on-month demand has fractionally cooled with job vacancies falling by 1 percent between January and February 2015, due mainly to uncertainties around the outcome of the forthcoming General Election.

APSCo’s data, compiled by Staffing Industry Analysts, coincides with the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures which show a growth of 143,000 in the three months to January - pushing the number of people in work to a record-high of 30.94 million in the UK.

Despite this small month-on-month dip, the demand for professional talent is on the rise. The latest data shows that year-on-year growth in the professional staffing market continues to soar across all of the trade association’s core sectors: permanent vacancies in finance and accounting are up by 12 percent, IT remains strong as digital roles are up by 27 percent, engineering roles rise by 25 percent, and across media & marketing job vacancies are up by 7 percent.

These positive statistics fall in line with predictions made by The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), forecasting that the British economy will grow by 2.5 percent throughout 2015 as solid business investment outweighs risks from the Euro Zone.

As the digital age revolutionises the working of our economy, the IT sector has grown rapidly contributing to a widely recognised national shift in professional roles.

According to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 1.8 million people – that’s 6 percent of all workers in the UK – are now employed in a job type that did not exist in 1990, rising to 10 percent in London.

The report suggests the Capital itself will continue to be the primary source of new digital job creation in the UK and is expected to grow by 25 percent over the next decade, with 13.8 percent to be generated in the Inner London area alone.

APSCo’s figures also reveal that average salaries across all professional sectors remain comparatively stable, increasing by 1.2 percent year-on-year and reflecting market stability. The degree of uplift recorded varies by sector, for example, engineering by 9.3 percent and finance by 4.1 percent.

However, this average rise in remuneration is echoed in the latest ONS statistics showing that median earnings, not including bonuses, grew yearly by 1.6 percent in the three months to January 2015.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, commented: “As we predicted earlier this year, uncertainty in the run up to the general election, and any associated impact on policy, seems to have temporarily dampened activity as organisations put the brakes on hiring to wait for greater stability. Despite this month-on-month blip however, we are not surprised that professional recruitment levels remain high.”

Furthermore, the number of temporary and contract job vacancies remain healthy across the professional staffing market with opportunities for work rising by 4.4 percent year-on-year. Temporary vacancies, in particular the finance and accounting, and media and marketing sector groups, are strong, increasing by 1.5 percent and 9 percent respectively.

These figures are in line with analysis from the Bank of England which found that structural shifts in the workforce, such as ageing professionals and women particularly leaving full-time employment in order to pursue more flexible working hours, have accounted for the UK self-employment boom.

Ms Swain further added: “Contract vacancy rates no longer directly correlate with the number of permanent positions. A record 15 percent of the UK workforce is now self-employed, which is a sign of our nation’s desire for flexibility, driven by entrepreneurial spirit. George Osborne’s Budget announcement that Class 2 National Insurance contributions will be scrapped for self-employed professionals in the next parliament indicates further Government support for contractors, which, it is worth mentioning, account for a third of the growth in employment since 2010.”

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