According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG's Report on jobs, growth of permanent staff placements accelerated in February, reaching its strongest since July 2007. Temporary and contract staff billings also increased, although the latest rise was the slowest in three months.
Overall demand for staff continued to increase in February, extending the current period of growth to five months. The pace of expansion accelerated again, reaching its fastest for just over two-and-a-half years. Sharper increases in demand were recorded for both permanent and temporary/contract staff.
The supply of candidates to fill vacancies continued to rise in February, but at a slower rate. The latest increases in both permanent and temporary/contract staff availability were the weakest since April 2008.
Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: "The UK jobs market is continuing to improve. Increasing employer confidence has resulted in the best performance we've seen in permanent employment for two and a half years. High-end sectors such as IT are showing particularly strong growth and we are also seeing significant increases in demand for admin and back-office support.
"Looking ahead, there are indications that recruitment in the public sector could drop off fast. A new approach to public-sector resourcing is now critical and will have a direct impact on the wider employment outlook. We question whether the public sector has the right capability in place to lead the necessary transformation and put in place staffing structures that will keep costs down while improving public services. Rather than responding with random job cuts, the public sector needs to embrace radical reform. Flexible working must be seen as part of the cost solution, rather than the problem."
Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, added: "The latest figures seem to confirm that the UK jobs market is on the road to recovery. Permanent job placements are growing at their fastest pace since July 2007, with both vacancies and salaries increasing. Sectors such as IT and computing as well as engineering and construction that were particularly hit by recession are clearly on the rebound. However, this all comes with one big warning: the impact of the inevitable public-sector recession on the jobs market has yet to be felt and will be played out over the next six to 12 months."