The number of permanent staff appointments made by UK recruitment consultancies increased in March, with growth picking up to the strongest since October 1997. Higher placements were underpinned by a further expansion of permanent staff vacancies, albeit the slowest in three months.
The Report on Jobs from the organisations shows growth of short-term staff appointments quickened to the strongest for 34 months in March.
And recruitment consultants signalled another improvement in the availability of staff during March. The supply of both permanent and temporary/contract candidates increased at slightly faster rates compared with one month previously.
Permanent staff salaries also rose again in March. The rate of inflation was solid, despite easing slightly from February's 20-month high. Temp pay increased at a pace that, although modest, was the sharpest since June 2008.
Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: "Permanent appointments increasing at the fastest pace for over 12 years is the clearest sign yet of a revival in the UK jobs market. A rise in both temporary and contract work at the sharpest rate for nearly three years shows how they continue to provide vital flexibility for UK businesses as well as a valuable route back into work for job-seekers.
"But, the overall outlook is tempered by public-expenditure cuts which are already impacting on recruitment in this sector. Deep-rooted reforms and innovative approaches to public-sector resourcing will be needed in order to maintain frontline services. While high-end sectors such as IT and engineering continue to show strong growth, demand is also increasing for secretarial and back-office support roles."
Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, added: "The UK jobs market seems to be going from strength to strength with permanent job placements growing at the fastest rate for over 12 years. These figures show that private-sector confidence is returning and that the UK is exiting recession at a pace. However, a lot of the current hiring activity is going on in the public sector. The public-sector recession, which clearly is on the cards, hasn't hit the jobs market yet but when it does, the upward trend we have seen over the last couple of months may come to a halt."