June saw a further recovery of Scottish labour market conditions, according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs.
09 Jul 2021
Hiring activity surged again amid reports that companies were stepping up their hiring efforts in line with easing COVID-19 restrictions and rising economic activity. The latest upturn in permanent placements slowed noticeably from May's all-time high, but was still rapid overall, while temp billings growth also remained historically elevated. Meanwhile, vacancies for both permanent and short-term staff increased at the steepest rates in the survey’s history. However, recruiters signalled steeper falls in staff supply, with respondents citing shortages in some sectors and a reluctance among candidates to switch roles due to COVID-19 related uncertainty.
Permanent placements rise markedly again in June
The number of permanent staff appointments across Scotland rose further during June. Many firms had stepped up their hiring efforts amid looser COVID-19 restrictions and a rebound in economic activity, according to respondents. The rate of increase slowed from May's record pace, but remained among the quickest on record and sharp overall.
June data highlighted a further upturn in temp billings across Scotland, extending the current sequence of growth to ten months. Anecdotal evidence attributed the latest rise to the reopening of many businesses due to looser COVID-19 restrictions and strong demand for staff. Despite slowing slightly on the month, the rate of increase was the second-quickest for 14 years and marked overall.
Fastest fall in permanent candidate availability since March 2019
For the fifth month in a row, the supply of permanent candidates across Scotland fell in June. Concerns regarding the pandemic meant many people were unwilling to switch roles, according to respondents. The rate of decline accelerated noticeably on the month and was the fastest since March 2019.
The availability of temporary candidates across Scotland declined substantially during June. The respective seasonally adjusted index fell just over 14 points on the month to an all-time low, signalling the steepest downturn in temp staff supply on record. Increased demand for staff, a reluctance among candidates to switch roles, Brexit and IR35 regulations were all attributed through anecdotal evidence to the latest fall in temp candidate numbers.
Starting salaries continue to rise sharply in June
A seventh consecutive monthly rise in permanent starting salaries across Scotland was registered in June. According to panellists, a shortage of candidates had placed upwards pressure on pay. The rate of increase slowed slightly on the month, but was still among the steepest on record.
Recruiters across Scotland recorded a further increase in average hourly wages for short-term staff during June, amid reports that difficulties finding staff had led firms to raise pay rates. The rate of inflation slowed only slightly from May's 49-month record, and was the second-quickest since July 2018 and rapid. Temp wages have now risen in all but one of the past nine months.
Unprecedented upturn in permanent vacancies
Demand for permanent staff across Scotland rose sharply again during June. The respective seasonally adjusted index reached a fresh series high to signal the fastest rise in permanent vacancies since data collection began in January 2003. The rate of increase was also broadly in line with that seen across the UK as a whole.
Across the monitored sectors, IT & Computing registered the quickest increase in vacancies, followed by Engineering & Construction.
Recruiters across Scotland registered a further rise in the number of temporary vacancies during June, extending the current sequence of strengthening demand to nine months. The rate of increase quickened to a fresh series record and was rapid overall, also outpacing the UK-wide trend.
Blue collar saw the strongest rise in vacancies of the monitored sectors during June, followed by IT & Computing.
Sebastian Burnside, Chief Economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, commented:
“June data pointed to a sustained rebound of the Scottish labour market, with further upturns in both permanent staff appointments and temp billings. The rate of increase in the former slowed from May's record, but remained rapid, while temp billings continued to rise at one of the quickest rates in the survey’s history.
“Demand for staff surged again too, with vacancies for both permanent and contract staff rising at the strongest rates on record. At the same time, the supply of workers dropped steeply again, with respondents noting that caution among some candidates around moving roles had led to some shortages. With lockdown measures set to ease further and a return to more normal business conditions, these concerns should diminish, which should support a sustained rebound in Scottish labour market conditions over the coming months.”