The appointment of permanent staff has risen for the first time since September, as increased market activity and vaccine news has led some firms to hire more people.
According to the latest KPMG and REC UK Report on Jobs survey, demand for staff also increased in December, though temporary vacancies rose at a much steeper rate than that seen for permanent workers.
The report was compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies.
The survey revealed that temp billings reportedly rose at the “sharpest pace” for over two years, as companies still opt for short-term staff due to uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.
Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said: “The underlying strength of the British economy shone through in the December jobs figures. The biggest expansion in temporary recruitment since October 2018 shows how important the flexible jobs market is to that performance. Growing permanent placements and starting pay also emphasised the resilience of our economy.
“The important thing now is to maintain as much of that momentum as possible through the new lockdown. With business cash flows under renewed pressure, helping employers protect and create jobs is essential. We need a long-term plan to support businesses across the supply chain – not just those required to close.”
The REC suggested that redundancies related to the pandemic and fears over current job security drove a further “marked increase” in the availability of both permanent and short-term staff in December.
James Stewart, VC at KPMG, said: “The emergence of a vaccine did bring more confidence to the jobs market in December with a small increase in permanent appointments. Temporary billings were also sharply up across the UK although London was a notable exception.
“However, we will have to see what January brings with a new national lockdown sure to fuel economic uncertainty, alongside preparing and adapting to the new relationship with the EU. But with the UK leading the way on the vaccine roll out and continued government financial support, there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel for both business and jobseekers.”