Professional recruitment firms reported that overall vacancy numbers for contract roles dipped by 9% in November 2017, while demand for permanent professionals remained largely stable, increasing by 0.4% year-on-year, according to new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), an industry body that represents recruitment companies.

The findings come from Professional Recruitment Trends, APSCo’s monthly look at job data produced jointly with Staffing Industry Analysis. The results for November, which focus on professional recruitment, reveal that demand for contractors decreased across every one of the trade association’s core sector groups.

The overall number of contractors out on assignment, meanwhile, dipped by 11% during the same period. This can largely be attributed to a 33% year-on-year fall in IT professionals working on a contract basis during this time. APSCo’s data reflects the 64,000 decrease in full-time self-employment reported by the Office for National Statistics in December 2017.

This data coincides with reports that professional talent is becoming scarcer as a result of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, and suggests that employers are locking in the skills they need as a result. Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, explains: “This time last year, we reported that permanent vacancies were flat-lining amid uncertainty around Brexit. However, today it seems that employers are more concerned about an exodus of talent than a demise in demand, as was previously feared.”

“As a result, businesses are moving away from the contingent workers that they leaned on in times of greater uncertainty and locking in the talent they need to thrive in 2018.”

The trends are not universal however, and there are still some sectors very much in demand. Vacancies within engineering, for example, slipped by just 2%, while demand within IT, finance and marketing fell more significantly (by 9%, 9% and 24% respectively). Likewise despite the overall dip, the number of contractors out on assignment within engineering and finance increased year-on-year in November 2017 (by 9% and 2% respectively).

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