Employment growth hits a two-year high

Employment growth has hit a two-year high, with skills shortages continuing to impact on the IT sector, according to the latest...

Employment growth has hit a two-year high, with skills shortages continuing to impact on the IT sector, according to the latest monthly survey from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, writes Antony Savvas

The survey, compiled by NTC Research, showed that the boom in employment demands has been followed by a continuing slump in the availability of permanent staff. Availability has fallen for the 14th month running - and at the fastest rate since June 1998.

IT professionals in high demand include C++, Java, and HTML programmers, those with general e-commerce skills; electronic engineers, software engineers and Web designers. Automation designers also figured highly in the ratings.

The overall index rating for IT staff demand compared to the previous month jumped to 65.4 - a figure of 50 means there was no change on the previous month - demonstrating the rapid growth in demand for IT staff. Compared to other industries, IT was fifth behind secretarial/clerical (with a rating of 68.5); engineering/construction; hotel and catering; and nursing/medical.

This 65.4 rating for IT compares to the rating of 59.7 for the same month last year, demonstrating a steady long-term growth in demand. The index for temporary and contract staff in IT was one of the weakest compared to other sectors, with a rating of 53.7. But, to put this into perspective, the rating last year was only 46.5.

A survey of employment agencies reveals that in July 45% placed more people in work than the previous month, although the pace of growth is lower than in the spring - probably as a result of fewer skilled people being available to place.

In addition, 28% of agencies report that higher wages were being paid to staff placed during July than in June, with 37% saying that staff availability was lower.

On the temporary and contract side of the agencies' business, 25% say rates have increased from the previous month, with only 2% saying rates had gone down. This mirrors the staff availability figures, with 31% of agencies reporting lower availability of staff. The survey made special mention of the scarcity of IT programmers.

The overall employment rate in the UK was 74.6%, with only the South West, West Midlands, and the North East showing very slight falls.

The figures are based on the placement of staff in permanent jobs by recruitment agencies, the amount of national press advertising for jobs, and the number of unfilled vacancies at job centres.

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