New research reveals an improvement within the job market during the first month of 2021, with permanent and contract vacancies increasing. 

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSco) has found that vacancies for contract and permanent jobs increased in January when compared to December of the previous year.

Data provided by cube19, a growth analytics platform, revealed that rates of hiring improved in the first month of the year.

Contract vacancies saw an increase of almost half (42 per cent) whilst the number of permanent job roles also heightened by over a third (38 per cent).

In addition to this, despite year-on-year permanent vacancies decreasing, there seems to be an improvement within the labour market overall as the annual percentage fall in vacancies is continuing to decline.

In December, the year-on-year drop in vacancies stood at 32 per cent. However, by January 2021, this decreased to 28 per cent, showing signs of recovery.

Similarly, contract vacancies in January were down by 11 per cent year-on-year, showing an improvement of around 5 per cent.

In addition, the number of interviews that took place over the last two weeks of January increased by 18.5 per cent, suggesting that this will translate into further improvements within the labour market in February.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, commented:

It’s incredibly encouraging to see such a healthy uptick in vacancies for both permanent and contract roles month-on-month following the usual seasonal dip in December.

And while we entered the New Year with the announcement of another national lockdown, schools closing once more, and a return to widespread remote working, our data suggest that this hasn’t dampened hiring intentions with businesses remaining optimistic despite the current restrictions.

In addition, the fact that the percentage drop in year-on-year vacancies for permanent jobs is closing indicates we are certainly moving in the right direction. It is also interesting to note that we are seeing higher value contract placements indicative of the increasing reliance on the professional contingent workforce as employers turn to agile and flexible hiring solutions in an uncertain market.

*This information was taken from APSco’s Recruitment Trends Snapshot report which looked at data concerning recruitment activity in December 2020 and January 2021.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.