Skills divide widens as white-collar job openings rise




Ann Swain, CEO – the Association of Professional Staffing Companies








Despite recent job cuts announcements from John Lewis, Boots Rolls Royce, job opportunities for the professional sector were up month on month in June highlighting the major skills divide in the labour market. Permanent and contract vacancies increased 38% and 31% respectively, marking the first positive signs for professional recruitment since the crisis began. That’s according to the latest monthly Recruitment Trends Snapshot report from The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

Gap in year on year hiring closing

The data, provided by growth analytics platform, cube19, also revealed that while year on year hiring is down 46% across permanent and 36% in contract, these figures represent a smaller annual decrease when compared to May when these figures stood at -66% and -56% respectively. The same trend has been noted in placement numbers which although down 59% for perm and 50% in contract year on year, are far better than figures reported in May, suggesting the UK jobs market is taking small steps towards recovery as lockdown measures ease.

Daily tracking shows an increase in interviews

This uptick in positivity can also be seen in the daily tracking data which revealed that by the end of June, interviews were up 63% compared with the beginning of the month, which is indicative of more employers seeking extra resources to meet a growing demand as businesses continue to reopen.

Apprenticeship Levy – more flexibility needed

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo comments: “The monthly increases across vacancies, placements and interviews are certainly encouraging for white collar workers as we finally begin to see glimmers of positivity in the UK market. However, it also highlights the major skills gap that the labour market faces. We were disappointed that  the Chancellor, in his Summer Statement, did not introduce  more flexibility around the Apprenticeship Levy – we believe that the way in which levy funds can be used should be broadened to help re-skilling opportunities and facilitate the ‘skills pivot’ we will need to get people back to work. Currently the scheme can only be used to upskill employees on formal apprenticeship programmes so agency workers are excluded and the levy can’t be used for shorter term training, which would have been so useful during furlough.”

Joe McGuire of cube19 comments: “We can see some positive signs that the recovery is in motion. Vacancies, jobs and sales are all up from May, and it is encouraging to see that average perm salaries are continuing to increase. With more industries opening back up and lockdown easing, we hope to see this upward trend continue on the same trajectory. It will take some time to get back to pre-COVID levels, but there is a big opportunity for the recruitment industry during these times.”



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