Recruitment fell sharply in April, suggesting that employers are holding back on hiring as business confidence continues to be impacted by economic uncertainty.

That is according to the latest statistics from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) – the trade body for the professional recruitment sector.

The data – provided by the global leader in software for the staffing industry, Bullhorn – revealed that permanent and contract vacancies fell 16 percent and 13 percent respectively between March and April.

The annual comparison also shows a decline in recruitment.

Jobs fell 24 percent for permanent roles and 21 percent for contract positions between April 2022 and 2023.

Placements fall as businesses fail to recruit

According to the statistics, the number of placements also fell in April, down 25 percent for permanent and contract positions between March and April 2023. While this is indicative of a slowdown in hiring over the Easter holidays, the annual comparisons point to a contraction that is being driven by a lack of business confidence. Permanent placements were down almost a third (-31%) between April 2022 and the same period in 2023, while contract also fell 27 percent.

The data does, however, indicate a monthly uptick in average permanent salaries which, although only small at 2 percent, does suggest that remuneration is creeping up as a combination of the cost-of-living crisis and shortages of highly skilled professionals prevails across the UK.

Ann Swain, Global CEO of APSCo comments:

“The latest figures do present a level of concern for the UK. The recruitment market often serves as a bellwether for the broader economic climate, making this sharp annual fall in jobs and placements an issue that all business leaders and government authorities should take note of. The data suggests that we have shifted from a lack of candidates to a sharp drop in requirements as business confidence falls amid economic uncertainty. While reports from the OBR suggest that we have narrowly avoided a recession so far, we could be heading in a different direction unless confidence in the economy is strengthened, and that needs to be underpinned by a strong labour market.”

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.