January was a great month for UK engineering and construction professionals looking for a job, particularly those interested in a permanent position. According to the latest jobs report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG, overall vacancies registered a sharp increase in January, growing at their fastest rate since May 1998.
Engineers were the big winners last month, proving the most sought-after professionals both in the permanent and temporary/contract labour markets. Construction was a very strong category for permanent worker demand, coming second on the list, although in terms of temporary/contract demand growth it was outperformed by other industries. Nevertheless, all nine temp categories covered by the REC/KPMG report wrapped up the month with improved demand.
job seekers had good reason to be hopeful.
Commenting on the latest data, Tom Hadley of the REC pointed out that job seekers had good reason to be hopeful. Every UK region is delivering improvement with regard to permanent starting salaries and hourly pay, which is the result of skill shortages in more and more sectors. The January rise in permanent worker demand was particularly pronounced in the construction and engineering sectors amid hectic building activity and major infrastructure projects. However, employers are finding it extremely hard to secure skilled workers for their vacancies, Hadley noted.
KPMG partner Bernard Brown made another important observation, namely the growing tendency among candidates to opt for temporary positions. Employers are gaining in confidence and creating more permanent jobs but there are not enough people willing to apply for them. It seems that job seekers prefer the “try before you buy” approach before considering a long-term engagement, Brown said.