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The Report on Jobs: first signs of confidence? 02/03/2012
How is the job market shaping up at the start of 2012?
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- Entering the new year
- Signs of recovery?
- Slow but steady growth
- What does this mean for job seekers?
- Downloadable document
Entering the new year
Nervousness abounds over the economy and the job market in 2012. With the Eurozone still far away from a definitive solution to its problems, Greece seemingly edging closer to the precipice of default, and Portugal again earning worried looks, there is much debate about whether Britain will be able to weather the storm.
The state of the job market will be crucial in determining how resilient Britain will be. The REC’s Report on Jobs, published every month in partnership with KPMG, is the earliest barometer of the health of this market.
Signs of recovery?
After three months of worrying news, January’s figures present a glimmer of hope for the UK, aligning with other recent news such as the manufacturing PMI to suggest the economy may be beginning to turn the corner.
For the first time since September, the number of permanent job placements being made by recruitment companies has increased. This would suggest that companies are regaining the confidence to make long-term decisions. However, the temporary market remains in a slump, although it is now shrinking more slowly than it was in December.
Although more long-term jobs may at last be being created by businesses, therefore, it seems that the temp jobs which give so many people a path back into work are proving difficult to fill.
Slow but steady growth
Interestingly, however, the number of vacancies, both permanent and temporary, continues to grow slowly but steadily. Although all these jobs are apparently not being filled, it would appear that businesses still feel sufficient demand exists for them to seek extra staff.
Some parts of the economy are, as expected, performing far more robustly than others. In particular, the government will be pleased that its efforts to turn Britain into a high-tech, advanced manufacturing economy continue to bear fruit.
The engineering/construction sector saw the most demand for both permanent and temporary staff, while IT & computing also saw healthy demand for permanent workers.
Interestingly, the nursing/medical/care had the second-strongest demand for temp workers. It would seem that the continued uncertainty over the government’s NHS reforms may be seeing those in the care sector turn to a short-term workforce to retain flexibility.
What does this mean for job seekers?
Following a dip in December, the pay rates for temporary workers began to grow again, although only just. Permanent salaries for new starters, meanwhile, continued to grow at a slow but steady rate. This underlines the wider picture that the jobs market may just be turning the corner after its mini-slump, but any green shoots of recovery are only just breaking the surface.
The message for job-seekers remains the same as it has throughout the recession and the struggling recovery: future jobs will come in the high-skill, high-value sectors, and workers will have to match this demand if they want to thrive.
REC-Report-on-Jobs.pdf (823kb Pdf)
Andrew Tomlinson, policy and PR advisor, The Recruitment and Employment Confederation
Before working for the REC, Andrew Tomlinson spent two years as a Parliamentary Analyst at DeHavilland. He has previously worked in both the British House of Commons and the US Congress.