Candidate availability falls at sharpest rate in almost 17 years

May’s Report on Jobs published by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG reported that the availability in permanent candidates has fallen at the sharpest rate since 1997.

The number of candidates available to employers has fallen every month in 2014.  However, despite the candidate shortage many employers are still in the mood to recruit, the overall demand for staff has continued to increase.

This comes alongside the news that The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) report that recruitment confidence has hit a three-year high in the industry, with 65 per cent of manufactures in the West Midlands looking to create new jobs. Similarly, Recruiter reported that job vacancies in the three months to the end of January were at their highest for 15 years. Meanwhile, the growth in salaries has also increased.

The Report on Jobs recorded the steepest drop in permanent staff availability for 16½ years, yet figures still show 2.2 million unemployed people in the UK.

Kevin Green, CEO at REC said: “The creation of these jobs, combined with the return of job fluidity, is creating a dynamic labour market. However the big issue remains that employers are finding it hard to find the talent and skills they need, yet ONS figures show that we still have 2.2 million unemployed people in the UK.”

He added that the political debate around immigration must recognise the skills shortage, suggesting that the Government should reform the visa system to ensure UK businesses are able grow. He said this will create opportunities for young people, the long term unemployed and more chances for career progression.


  • The availability of candidates to fill permanent roles fell further in May
  • Demand for staff continued to increase in May, although the pace of growth eased to a five-month low.
  • Permanent placements growth remained striking in May, despite lessening slightly since the previous month.
  • Permanent vacancies again rose slightly faster than temporary/contract roles despite sharply falling candidate availability.
  • Growth in permanent salaries remained considerable in May. Although easing slightly compared to April’s salary growth. Temporary/contract staff hourly pay rates meanwhile rose at the fastest pace since December 2007. 

The Regions

The Report on Jobs also detailed that permanent placements in the Midlands showed the strongest growth, while London displayed the slowest rise. Temporary vacancies growth was fastest in the Midlands, followed by the South. London and the North had similar rates of development.

Public/Private Sectors

Private sector demand for staff remained considerably stronger than that in the public sector during May according to The Report on Jobs. In both sectors, vacancy growth was faster for permanent employees than temporary staff.

Staff Categories

  • Accounting/ Finance stole the top spot in the demand for staff league table. Engineering fell to second place, although continued to register a marked rate of growth overall.
  • The slowest rise in demand was indicated for blue-collar workers.
  • Blue Collar workers were the most in-demand type of temporary staff in the latest report on jobs. Yet again, Engineering took second place in the table.
  • Nursing/Medical/Care staff saw the slowest rise in demand for their services.

Report on Jobs Kevin Green-REC

Kevin Green, CEO at REC

“The UK’s jobs boom continues with vacancies increasing as employers look for new workers to meet increasing demand and to replace staff that have been snapped up by competitors.

“The creation of these jobs, combined with the return of job fluidity, is creating a dynamic labour market. However the big issue remains that employers are finding it hard to find the talent and skills they need, yet ONS figures show that we still have 2.2 million unemployed people in the UK.

“The political debate around immigration must acknowledge this skills shortage. Now is the time for government to reform the visa system to ensure that the UK retains a flexible labour market so our businesses can grow and create more jobs. This will give young people and the long term unemployed greater opportunities to enter the workforce and successfully progress up the career ladder.”

Report on Jobs Bernard Brown-KPMG

Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG

“Trying to fill vacancies in the current climate must feel like wandering through a hall of mirrors for the UK’s employers. No sooner are they in a position to reflect the improving economy by creating roles and offering tempting salaries, than the search for talent seems to reach a dead end, with candidates either preferring to hide in the shadows or failing to offer the appropriate skills.

“The latest figures also suggest that employees want more from their workplace than better pay and better benefits. Even though starting salaries continue to rise, job seekers are sending out a very clear message that remuneration is not the only reward they are after. With candidate availability at its lowest point for almost 17 years, individuals are saying that prospective employers are going to need to widen their offer to tempt top talent to move. It could mean that we have finally reached a point where employers have to consider reshaping roles, working arrangements and their own expectations or risk being caught out by an endless cycle of unfilled roles and unfulfilled workers struggling to cope with increasing workloads.”

Summary: Jessie McGee

Previous Reports

April Report
March Report

February Report
January Report


Mike Sandiford
Head of Partnerships
0207 193 9931

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