A number of good signs for job seekers and recruiters alike this week. On Monday Michael Page, the UK’s second largest recruiter, announced gross profit for the fourth quarter of 2010 of £119.8 million, up 32% on 2009. When you dig in to the numbers, there is yet more encouragement to be found. Permanent job vacancies were up 40%, with temporary vacancies up 10% in the same period.
Further investigation suggests confidence slowly returning to the jobs market. Interesting to note comments from Steve Ingham, CEO at Michael Page, talk of the increase in permanent job vacancies being driven by “churn” in the employment market place, that is employees moving jobs, as opposed to new jobs being created.
Why should this be cause for optimism? This points to people being less concerned about moving jobs. Taking the leap to a new employer and the “last in first out” fear that can engender in tough times appears to be on the wane. That’s a good sign. Confidence has a huge part to play in the employment market just as it does in all areas of the economy.
This morning we had the results of the KPMG and Recruitment and Employment Confederation Jobs Market Survey for December. Demand for permanent staff rose at the fastest rate for four months. Demand for temporary staff rose at its fastest rate for six months.
The greatest demand for permanent staffing was in IT, professional services, engineering and accounting. One of the areas to evidence skills shortages, sales, offers yet further encouragement. Demand for Executive Talent amongst Transcend customers has been greatest for Sales and Marketing Directors. Typically these have been newly created appointments in circumstances where employers, having cut back on sales and marketing during the recession, now feel they have opportunities to grow but realise they lack the talent to fulfil them.
Other areas where talent is in increasing demand but skills are short include project management and engineering. Both evidence good signs. So many projects over the last 3 years, unless under the auspices of “business critical”, have been shelved. Companies are starting to re – invest, slowly but surely, to spend money again, having horded cash in tough times. Projects are being kicked off and once again talent is needed to fulfil requirements. An increased demand for Engineering talent endorses the positive results being enjoyed by the manufacturing sector. Long may it continue.
We have yet to understand the full impact of the austerity measures on the employment market. Public Sector job losses we know are inevitable. More needs to be done in to encourage jobs creation in the private sector if the impact on overall unemployment is to be minimised. At least the rhetoric from government supports this, we now need to see the evidence. More needs to be done from a legislative viewpoint to encourage employers to hire staff, indeed to make it easier and cheaper to hire staff. A reduction in the rate of Employers NI would be a good start.
I am encouraged by what I see, what I read, what I hear from customers. There is real cause for optimism, cautious optimism maybe, but optimism nonetheless.