Region's job market is improving, says report
THE South West job market is steadily improving according to a new report by recruitment experts.
The Report on Jobs does, however, show the growth in permanent jobs slowed last month, but was still above the 2012 average, as temporary positions increased.
And growth in permanent salaries also slowed to a "marginal rate".
The report contains data from a survey of recruitment and employment consultants in the South of England, excluding London but including the South West.
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It is designed to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to labour market trends.
Recruitment agencies indicated permanent placements rose for the fourth month running in November, but at a slower pace.
The growth rate was solid, but weaker than the UK average.
Consultants' billings from temporary employment rose for the fifth consecutive month, however.
And the rate of growth accelerated to the fastest in 20 months, at a pace stronger than the UK average.
Permanent staff placements rose across the country, for the second successive month.
There was growth in temporary appointments nationally too.
The number of candidates available to fill permanent job vacancies was unchanged.
Availability of permanent candidates has risen only twice in the past nine months, the report said.
The flat picture in the South West broadly matched that across the UK.
And regional recruitment consultants reported rising numbers of candidates available for temporary roles last month – the fourth month of growth but little-changed from October.
Temp supply grew in the South, but there was only a marginal rise in salaries of new starters in permanent jobs, following the strongest increase for 18 months in October.
The near-stagnation of salaries in the South contrasted with a slightly faster increase across the UK.
Hourly pay rates in temporary/contract employment rose in November at a moderate rate little-changed from September and October.
Salaries for new starters in permanent jobs rose and the South recorded the best temp pay growth, albeit a moderate increase.
John Farmer, managing director of Jobseekers Recruitment Services Ltd and Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) regional director in the South West, said: "There are some positive signs for both temporary and permanent jobs.
"In our business we have seen growth in both since last month and it's up on this time last year.
"The biggest issue for us is still the inertia in the candidate market and the calibre of some of the new 'graduate level' job market entrants."
Phil Cotton, regional chairman for professional services firm KPMG, which has a Plymouth base at Marsh Mills, said: "Twelve months ago employment prospects were bleak. Today, however, the negative outlook has been replaced by cautious optimism as employers in the South gradually gain confidence to make decisions about the vacancies they want to fill.
"November's figures paint a picture of a steadily improving job market in the South as the number of staff taken on by businesses increased for a fourth consecutive month.
"Perhaps the Government's long-term strategy for jobs is beginning to bear fruit?
"With the latest figures hinting that robust demand in business is offsetting weak demand across the public sector, we might just be seeing signs of resilience.
"But the good news must be seen in the context of a fragile economy that remains susceptible to future shocks.
"Recovery is by no means certain, but the steady growth in placements we have witnessed over the last quarter is welcome news."