Recruiters have reported a month-on-month increase in the number of permanent placements made throughout the UK, though at a slower level than recorded in previous months.

The revelations were published in October’s Report on Jobs, compiled by Markit, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG. This monthly benchmarking report is based on responses from REC-member recruitment consultancies and thus forms an accurate picture of the employment landscape right now.

Here are a few of the key findings:

Permanent appointments continue to rise

Appointments made through recruitment consultancies were up. On the permanent side, this growth represented a 25th successive month of expansion. However, this increase was modest and marked the slowest rise since last November. Recruiters also noted that the number of temporary billings increased too, for the eighteenth month in a row. Once again, though a rise was noted, it was at the slowest level since June 2013.

This slowdown may be tied into the fact that people aren’t moving around quite so much at the moment – a fact that has seen the availability of staff also decline. Similarly, at the end of the year, many companies may not wish to spend on hiring new staff, waiting instead for the new year – and their new budget.

There were naturally some regional variations, with the Midlands experiencing the highest levels of growth in both permanent appointments and temporary billings, while the lowest were seen in the North and South respectively.

Pay grows…but slows

While rates of pay appear to be continuing in the right – upward – direction, October’s responses showed that the rate of growth has slowed down. This trend has not come as a surprise, says Bernard Brown, KPMG’s partner and head of business services, who understands that businesses are still cautious about the economy and reticent to ‘pay over the odds when the right skills are lacking’.

REC chief executive Kevin Green concurred, urging the government to offer businesses more help and better protection from uncertainty: “If we want everyone to benefit from the economic recovery, and wage growth to accelerate we can’t keep making it more expensive to employ people,” he said.

On the temp side, 24.4% of recruiters said that hourly pay rates were higher now than they were a month ago. The rises may in part be as a response to the recent increase to the national minimum wage. Regionally speaking, the Midlands reported the fastest increases in temporary hourly rates and permanent starting salaries when compared with London, the South and the North.

Decline in available staff

As mentioned above, the REC recruiters said they have noticed a decline in the number of available staff – both for permanent and temporary roles. Over two-fifths of respondents reported fewer candidates, compared with only eight per cent that had seen an increase. These declines were more pronounced in London than in any of the other regions monitored by the report.

However, with the end of the year fast approaching, recruiters can probably look forward to an influx of job-seekers, all inspired by New Year’s Resolutions to find a new job. Similarly, many businesses may get their new budgets in January and can afford to start hiring once more.

Jobs in demand

In completing the Report on Jobs survey, one of the questions recruiters are asked revolves around professions that are most in demand; both for permanent and temporary vacancies. In October, engineering roles were at the top of the list – unsurprising given the continued skills shortages for those in STEM disciplines. This was followed by IT & Computing experts, with Accounting /Financial in third place and Executive / Professional in fourth.

Nurses and medical professionals topped the temporary / contract staff list as those most needed. This was closely followed by engineers, secretarial / clerical staff and IT.

Speaking about the findings, Kevin Green commented: “Ongoing candidate shortages are a major barrier to growth. Despite the political sensitivities around immigration the reality is that we need to bring in more skilled workers not fewer.”

Essentially, the message remains that the employment market is stable, with appointments and pay levels continuing to rise. However, these increases are slowing down, so the government and businesses mustn’t be complacent if they want the economy to return to full strength once more.