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Online recruitment ends year on the up - with HR vacancies increasing fastest

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Online recruitment opportunities in the UK rose by 3% in December, ending the year at a level unseen over the prior 11 months, research from Monster reveals.

Of the 21 sectors monitored by the Index, 15 registered rises in online recruitment activity in December. HR job opportunities increased by 8% for a third consecutive monthly gain, reaching a ten-month high in a sign that corporate demand for human resources staff is picking up again.

Year on year the Index was down 15%, the smallest since December 2008 and well below the overall EU level, suggesting the UK labour market is emerging somewhat ahead of the Continent.

Among occupational groups, opportunities have increased the most for clerical support workers, many of whom are employed in temporary positions, suggesting the worst of the corporate freeze is over.

Julian Acquari, managing director of Monster UK and Ireland, said: "Despite a still-struggling economy, UK job prospects are improving as employers slowly begin to emerge from financial crisis-induced recruitment hibernation.

"Clerical and support occupations are leading the way in terms of demand recovery, suggesting companies are primarily seeking temporary staff in order to maintain workforce flexibility as long as the economic uncertainty lingers. However, the uptick in HR opportunities also suggests that more organisations are preparing to increase personnel to take advantage of opportunities presenting themselves in the wake of the downturn."

Opportunities rose by 7% in the production, manufacturing, maintenance and repair sector in a continued increase in hiring activity, as heavy industry employers - traditionally less inclined to look for workers online - increased their job ads on the internet.

Banking, finance and insurance edged up 6% to an eight-month high but remained down by 24% year-on-year, largely mirroring lethargic hiring at the beginning of 2009.

Seven of the nine UK regions reported a rise in online job availability in December. Wales saw the highest rate of increase for the third consecutive month, jumping 8% in December as well as registering the highest year-on-year increase with an 8% improvement on December 2008. This was the region's first annual increase in 13 months, suggesting Wales's job recession was significantly more short-lived than for the UK as a whole.

Northern Ireland was the only region to report a decline in December, extending a five-month downward trend. Its 27% drop year-on-year in December was by far the largest among all regions, suggesting Northern Ireland's labour market comeback is lagging that of Great Britain.