Employers looking to temporary workers to help recovery

by Carl Wright

Employers looking to temporary workers to help recovery

New data from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) suggests that businesses are looking to temporary workers to help them recover from the pandemic.

According to the latest JobsOutlook report, Temporary staff are becoming increasingly important to businesses as they try to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of uncertainty, temporary work can be a real asset to both employers and workers – it allows firms to create jobs when the future outlook is unclear, and gives people a chance to get back into work, earn money quickly, and progress into a permanent position.

The latest KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs survey signalled a renewed upturn in hiring activity in August as more parts of the economy reopened following the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Although permanent placements rose only slightly, temp billings expanded at the quickest rate for 20 months.   

The availability of candidates meanwhile rose at the second-steepest rate in over two-decades of data collection amid reports of widespread redundancies. At the same time, vacancy trends remained subdued, with overall demand for staff falling further in August. Consequently, recruiters signalled further drops in starting salaries and temp wages.  

The report is compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies.

Key findings

  • Permanent placements and temp billings return to growth
  • Substantial increase in candidate supply amid redundancies
  • Starting salaries and wages continue to decline

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said:

“A return to growth on permanent placements and temporary billings is good news – though it is also expected, given we are comparing activity now with the lockdown. Temporary work is critical in any recovery - businesses turn to temps to help them ramp up and meet demand while the future looks uncertain. At the same time, it enables people to find work quickly. Past recessions show that temporary work bounces back more quickly – it is one of our jobs market’s biggest strengths and that’s really showing now.

“Slower growth in permanent staff appointments is concerning. It reflects the uncertainty businesses face about what will happen over coming months with the pandemic and Brexit. Government can take action to address this – by focusing on getting a trade deal in place and supporting businesses to keep people employed. A reduction to employers’ National Insurance Contributions, and greater flexibility on skills support would both help firms to maintain jobs and hire more people.”


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