Permanent Job Vacancies Hit Two-year Low

Permanent staff placements fell at their fastest rate last month since July 2009, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has highlighted, suggesting that small firms are continuing to put recruitment on hold.

According to the REC’s survey of 400 employment firms, the number of staff available to fill jobs was still rising but the increase in permanent vacancies had now dropped to a two-year low.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said the figures indicated a “rapidly declining” jobs market, triggered by faltering business and consumer confidence.

“The market has been slowing since May, but this slowdown has accelerated in the autumn. As a consequence, we expect unemployment to rise in December and January.”

Federation of Small Businesses spokeswoman Sara Lee said the figures reflected a lack of confidence among small-business owners.

“The majority of small businesses are not hiring at the moment. Many are instead looking to downsize by not replacing staff when they leave.”

Lee added that small firms were “uncertain” about the economic outlook for 2012, which in turn was negatively impacting on recruitment.

“Even if firms have a need for extra employees, we are seeing business owners put their recruitment plans on hold. It’s a big responsibility to take on workers, and many firms are waiting for a better economic setting before they make that commitment.”

But skills shortages also remained a problem for many firms, according to Lee. The FSB’s most recent Voice of Small Business Index, which polled 1,600 small firms in September, found that nearly a third had struggled to find staff with suitable skills for their business.

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