Scots job openings rise but labour supply dries up

Permanent job openings in Scotland rose further in July — but the rate of growth eased for the fourth month running and was the joint-weakest in close to three years.

That’s according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs.

The report also revealed that permanent staff placements in Scotland fell for the first time in two-and-a-half years in July amid signs that firms were looking at short-term staff to fulfil roles, as temp billings returned to growth. 

The report said the decline in permanent staff placements coincided with a “steep and accelerated deterioration” in permanent labour supply across Scotland that “was among the fastest recorded in the survey history.”

Temp candidate availability also worsened.

“Demand for temporary staff grew sharply in July, contrasting with the joint-slowest rise in permanent job vacancies since August 2016,” said the report.

“Meanwhile, both temporary and permanent candidate availability continued to deteriorate, leading to a further marked rise in pay pressures.

“For the first time since January 2017, permanent staff placements declined in Scotland during July.

“Scotland has outperformed relative to the UK overall so far this year, but the trends between the two converged in July, as the fall in Scotland matched that seen for the UK as a whole.

“However, Scottish recruiters indicated an increased drive towards short-term staff, with strong temp billings growth registered …

“Although permanent job openings in Scotland rose further in July, the rate of growth eased for the fourth month running and was the joint-weakest in close to three years.

“The slowdown in Scotland was not mirrored across the UK as a whole, which saw an accelerated rise in permanent staff demand, however the rate of growth here was subdued by historical standards.”

Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “While Report on Jobs data has shown falling permanent placements at the aggregate UK level in each month since March, Scotland had shown resilience to defy this trend and continue posting healthy jobs growth in the first half of the year.

“However, the upturn in permanent staff appointments across Scotland came to an end in July, as permanent hiring fell for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

“Other indicators also showed signs of a softening labour market.

“Permanent vacancy growth dipped and was the joint-weakest since August 2016.

“Firms appeared to look to short-term workers to fulfil roles at their firms.

“Alongside the renewed rise in temp billings, demand for short-term staff rose at a sharper rate in July.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.