Last reviewed 18 January 2021

Increased market activity and better news about vaccines has led some firms to press on with hiring plans as the latest “UK Report on Jobs” survey signalled a renewed rise in permanent placements at the end of 2020.

Produced by KPMG and the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), the report suggest that companies often opted for short-term staff due to lingering uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit.

While demand for staff increased in December, if only slightly, temporary vacancies rose at a much steeper rate than that seen for permanent workers.

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”.

He has called for a long-term plan to support businesses across the supply chain, not just those required to close. This should include wider-spread reductions on business rates, support on VAT repayments and support for self-employed business owners previously excluded from schemes.

The REC noted that recruitment consultancies had signalled a tentative improvement in pay trends for both permanent and temporary workers in December with starting salaries and temp wages both increasing for the first time since March.

However, permanent pay rose only fractionally and the upturn in temp wages was mild overall.

There was a further marked increase in the availability of both permanent and short-term staff in December although this was almost certainly driven by the increased number of redundancies related to the pandemic and fears over current job security.

Vice Chairman at KPMG, James Stewart, said: “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.”

Comment from BrightHR’s CEO Alan Price

This report shows great promise for employers who are currently still in the thick of their pandemic woes.

However, not all employers will be positioned to move quickly into recruiting even after vaccines have been rolled out and may only make such plans in hopes for a steadier post-pandemic economy.

What that looks like though is so far yet to be seen.