In the week that the Bank of England decided to keep interest rates at a historic low and to suspend its quantitative easing policy, there was some good news for UK job hunters.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs, published earlier this week, reported that permanent staff placements rose in January for the sixth consecutive month. Despite easing from December's high, permanent placements remained strong and temporary/contract billing "continued to rise at a marked pace... Demand for staff grew at (its) strongest rate since July 2007". The increase in appointments was matched by an increase in vacancies which rosenfor the fourth month in a row at the fastest rate since July 2007. Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the REC commented that "...The number of vacancies reported by recruitment businesses also accelerated at the sharpest rate since July 2007, suggesting that we are now on the long road to recovery."
The report also pointed to some good news for job seekers. Candidate availability - people available to fill vacancies - increased at a lower level, with availability for permanent and temporary vacancies continuing the drop from the highs of late 2008/early 2009.
Global executive recruitment organisation Antal International had further good news for UK job hunters this week. According to Antal's latest Global Snapshot Survey, UK recruitment levels are some of the highest in Western Europe. The quarterly survey revealed that since last September, 59% of UK companies have been hiring compared to 50% in the previous quarter.
At the same time, however, British companies are planning on decreasing recruitment by 7% over the next three months, although the number of companies cutting staff will fall to just below one third. Antal believes that businesses will look to secure the best talent, and a natural churn in staff will occur.
This sense of cautious optimism was underlined by a report from Key Note that forecast a gradual recovery for the recruitment sector in 2010. The report forecasts that a 4.2% decrease in the value of the permanent recruitment sector in the year ending March 2010 will be followed by a sustained recovery in the second half of the year, as recruitment lags behind the recovering economy. Key Note suggest that financial services will be one of the sectors showing some improvement this year.
Financial services recruitment in Scotland was given a boost by Joslin Rowe Scotland, which this week revealed that 52% of Scottish financial services firms intend to increase staffing in 2010, an increase of 10% on 2009's hiring activity. Furthermore, 73% of companies surveyed were ‘optimistic' or ‘very optimistic' about business this year, whilst only 3% described their business confidence as ‘pessimistic'. Firms have found it hard to prise new talent away from current employers. Margaret Dyer, Director of Joslin Rowe Scotland commented "...While there's no doubt that there are now far more job opportunities in the market as we head into 2010, jobseeker movement among talented professionals remains muted. People are adopting a 'better the devil you know' career plan through fear of a double dip recession. The recession hangover means even firms with strong employer brands are struggling to entice the best recruits from their competitors."
One final cause for optimism this week was the news reported in the Financial Times that investment heavyweight Morgan Stanley intends to recruit hundreds of new staff over the next few years, with the new Chief Executive quoted as saying that "...We don't have enough people on the ground." According to Recruiter magazine, opportunities will be available in all activities, "including fixed incomes and equities."