The demand for highly skilled professional workers is significantly stronger than demand for workers across the UK labour market as a whole, according to new research commissioned by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

Research compiled by Innovantage, the UK’s leading provider of real-time labour market intelligence, reveals that permanent vacancies for highly skilled professional workers increased by 7% year-on-year in April – almost twice the rate of increase for all permanent vacancies across the entire labour market, which grew by 4%.

213,316 permanent jobs for highly skilled professional workers were advertised on job boards in April 2011, compared to 200,056 in April 2010.

The research is based on an analysis of jobs advertised on job boards. The definition of ‘highly skilled professional’ included in the analysis excludes public sector workers in the medical and education sectors, such as doctors and teachers. Innovantage’s unique software is able to track every unique job advertised on a UK job board, while stripping out any duplicates.

According to APSCo, the research shows that despite sluggish economic growth, highly skilled candidates with professional qualifications are faring much better in the labour market than candidates with lower value skills.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, comments: “While the number of highly skilled professional-level permanent jobs being advertised is up 7% compared to last April, the jobs market as whole is considerably more sluggish.”

“There is always a shortage of talent – even during a period of sluggish growth. In many highly skilled sectors of the economy, such as IT, it is incredibly hard to source certain skills from within the UK. Recruiters are reporting that it can take up to six months to fill a vacancy for an in-demand IT skill.”

John Nurthen of Staffing Industry Analysts comments: “The UK is increasingly becoming a highly skilled economy – low value, low skilled jobs are under constant attack from lower cost overseas competitors.”

“Commentators have been talking about a two-speed recovery. These figures seem to underline just how divergent demand for skills is across the economy. Some sectors – such as legal – are still struggling while engineering and manufacturing jobs are up 14% on the back of export-led growth.”