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Starting salaries rise for fastest time in 2.5 years

Starting salaries have hit a 31-month high amid growing candidate shortages.

The findings from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation found that starting salaries for permanent candidates increased at the fastest pace for over two-and-a-half years at the start of 2018.

In contrast, growth in temp pay and growth in temp billings softened to a ten-month low.

Despite this, overall demand for staff continued to rise sharply during January, for both permanent and temporary staff vacancies.

This demand was strongest in the private sector, with IT & computing leading the overall rankings, following closely by engineering and accounting/financial.

In contrast, permanent staff vacancies stagnated in the public sector, and the number of temporary staff roles declined slightly.

In the temporary sector, hotel & catering was the most in-demand. Demand was also strong for blue collar and nursing/medical/care workers. Construction saw the softest increase in vacancies.

Regionally, the North of England witnessed the fastest increase in permanent placements. The Midlands saw the quickest increase in temp billings, while growth was also sharp in the North and South of England and London.

However, the main plight of the recruiters surveyed was a shortage of talent.

The report found that the number of candidates available to fulfil permanent and temporary roles stagnated at historically sharp rates in January.

Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive warned that “the struggle to find appropriate candidates will get worse."

He said: “We are seeing a continued rise in jobs filled via recruiters as it gets more challenging for businesses to find candidates. The UK has almost full employment and the country is plagued by labour, skills and talent shortages. This increasing competition for good quality staff is driving up starting salaries with employers willing to pay higher wages to attract the right people. So, it’s a good time to move jobs, especially as employers aren’t increasing wages for their existing workforce.

“It’s reassuring that demand for permanent staff remains strong despite the economic uncertainties. However, there is a slight slowdown in the growth of temporary placements. This could be an early sign that employers are hesitating."