Job vacancies in the UK’s professional sector rose since November, with recruitment up 25% for contract staff and 15% for permanent staff.
According to a report by The Association of Professional Staffing Companies, year-on-year, the annual recruitment percentage decrease is improving.
While permanent vacancies did fall 27% year-on-year in February, it does reflect a slight improvement compared to January where the annual drop was 28%.
However, hiring for both contract and permanent roles was down 3% and 7% respectively in February.
However, APSCo says this a normal seasonal trend and when comparing February data to November, vacancies have increased 24.6% and 14.6% for contract and permanent respectively.
Interview numbers increased slightly in the last week of February compared to the first week but not to same degree as the 18.5% seen in the last two weeks of January.
In January 2021, hiring for permanent roles was up 38% respectively compared to December 2020 and though year-on-year permanent vacancies were down 28% in January, the annual percentage fall showed the trend compared more positively to December’s 32% year-on-year fall.
Meanwhile, a separate survey found that 65% of recruiters are planning to hire in 2021. Research conducted by Monster Recruitment among 3,100 recruiters and HR professionals, plus 8,800 candidates globally – has revealed the industry remains optimistic for the year ahead, with many UK businesses hoping to adapt further to accommodate employee’s changing expectations and needs.
Overall, most UK recruiters say they are feeling optimistic about 2021, with 65% saying they plan to hire this year. 35% say they will be hire to replace vacancies, while over 30% will be filling job new roles.
However, despite this positive outlook, UK recruiters anticipate hiring freezes over the coming months and compared to the United States, Canada, and other some European countries, the UK is least optimistic about hiring in 2021.
More than 50% of recruiters and decision makers in Canada, France, The Netherlands, and Sweden, say they are expecting to hire this year to fill job vacancies, compared 35% in the UK.
The outlook also varies by industry. In the UK healthcare sector 89% of recruiters are planning to hire this year and manufacturing (77%), technology (69%) and retail (69%) are also expecting to fill either new positions or replace positions lost during the pandemic.
74% of respondents say they are already are using virtual technology for at least half of all candidate interviewing and new-hire onboarding and over 15% of UK recruiters have gone fully virtual in their recruitment processes, compared to less than 10% in Europe.
IT Skills Shortage Predicted
However, as of February 2021, volumes of IT vacancies in the UK were at their highest point since the first lockdown in March 2020.
In the first two weeks of February the number of IT roles registered increased by 25% and Recruitment firm, Ashdown, is predicting that demand will continue to accelerate as projects put on hold during 2020 come online.
A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development showed the number of IT applicants is now lower than it was this time last year.
When the pandemic first hit, there were a significant number of redundancies across the majority of industries and IT candidate availability rose throughout 2020 as those that had been made redundant sought new employment.
Demand for IT Skills in 2021
However, Ashdown believes that as demand for IT skills increases through 2021, the volume of quality candidates will become constrained as many of those who were made redundant in 2020 will have already secured new roles and there will be a reluctance on the part of those who are employed in stable positions to move whilst economic uncertainty around the pandemic remains.