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Decline in recruitment slows as candidate availability surges

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Recruitment continued to fall in April but at a slower rate than in previous months, the latest report by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has revealed.

Placements for both permanent and temporary billings declined. Placements have fallen each month since October 2022.

For permanent placements the fall was at its weakest in 10 months. Temporary billing fell at their weakest since January.

Demand for staff also fell in April, part of a six-month-long downturn.

Candidate availability rose at its fastest since November 2023. 

Ben Keighley, founder of recruitment platform Socially Recruited, explained that recruitment remained low due to a lack of suitable candidates.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “An increase in the number of potential candidates doesn’t automatically translate into an increase in the number of suitable candidates.

“While employers will welcome the gradual reduction in the tightness of the labour market, overall vacancies remain high and companies in many sectors are still fighting hard to attract the best qualified talent.” 

He added that despite a slow in the decline, recruitment was not likely to pick up until the economy improved.

Keighley continued: “Overall recruiting sentiment remains cautious. While this Friday’s GDP data may confirm that the UK has crept out of recession, for hiring to pick up in earnest we need to see interest rates come down.


Read more: Worker demand plateaued from January-April 2023


“With the Bank of England widely expected to hold the base [interest] rate steady, the first cuts in interest rates could still be several months away. 

“Against that backdrop, the current pattern of highly targeted recruitment, in which employers seek maximum return on every advert they place, is likely to continue.”

This time last year there were labour shortages due to economic inactivity and skills shortages, which drove up salaries.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, told HR magazine that the increase in candidate availability was due to redundancies.

He said: “Redundancies spiked over the winter at 4.5 per thousand employees. While still historically low, this is over twice the level of the early summer last year, and has fed through to candidate availability. 

“When allied to job search activity from those who are seeking a pay rise to meet the pressure of rising inflation, we are seeing more activity from candidates. Changing jobs remains a key driver of higher pay.”

The report also showed that pay growth rates continued to strengthen in April, which marked 38 consecutive months of growth.


Read more: Recruitment declines while labour supply jumps


Permanent salaries rose at their fastest than in any other month in 2024. Meanwhile temporary wages rose at their steepest pace since June 2023. 

Carberry noted that this was due to the rise in minimum wage, which rose from £10.18 to £11.44 in April 2024.

He continued: “Pay rates have increased again as a function of more firms pricing an annual pay round into their offer to new staff and the 10% rise in the minimum wage. These cause pay to rise in a way that is less clearly linked to overall demand.”

However Keighley suggested that employers may have offered higher salaries to attract the right talent.

He continued: “While employers will welcome the gradual reduction in the tightness of the labour market, overall vacancies remain high and companies in many sectors are still fighting hard to attract the best qualified talent. 

“So while input cost inflation – from materials to B2B services – may be easing, employers seeking to recruit in these highly competitive sectors still feel under pressure to nudge up wages to attract candidates.”

The UK Report on Jobs is compiled by S&P Global, which surveyed a panel of 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies.

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