Last month, in my review of the RBS/Markit report for October, I suggested that for construction “the only way is up?” The November RBS/Markit survey of the Scottish jobs market suggests that my optimism was not misplaced. Despite the corresponding UK report for November (by KPMG/Markit) being headlined, “Permanent staff appointments drop again amid election and Brexit uncertainty,” the Scottish report for this month is more upbeat.
Under the headline, “Permanent placements rise for the first time since June,” we read of “a tentative sign of recovery in Scottish labour market conditions.” Moreover, it’s not just in the perm market, with temp/contractor jobs still growing, even though it’s at a slightly slower rate than previously.
However, it must be borne in mind that this refers to the economy as a whole. When we look at our area of construction, as I’ve said consistently throughout 2019, the UK-wide picture (increasingly gloomy) is not really replicated north of Hadrian’s Wall (and yes, I know that includes some of England). That’s not to say that we don’t have challenges, but more to stress that a glass half-full mentality will help get us through them.
Looking in more detail, as the breakdown by sector below shows, Construction (and Engineering) permanent vacancies have increased substantially month on month, while contractor (temp) vacancies have remained constant.
Significantly, as we’re well aware at Peace Recruitment, the Markit report also tells us that “both permanent and temporary candidate availability deteriorated at marked rates.” I’ve written before of the problems of an ageing workforce in our industry, especially in the professional arena, and the difficulties that will cause in the future, however throughout 2019 we’ve been able to find and place candidates for the vast majority of jobs that pass through our books. That’s reflected in the substantial year-on-year growth at Peace and our pipeline going into 2020 augurs well.
Finally, we all know that in a few days’ time we’ll know the result of general election and whether Brexit will go ahead quickly or not. Certainty is better than uncertainty for business, but with this election I am not sure we can be certain about anything…
Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment