There is a palpable air of optimism in world of recruitment now. About time I hear my colleagues say, but, as I remind them, we’ve been through the biggest downturn in the economy that anyone can remember. While obviously not of World War gravity, the Covid-19 crisis will still be talked about for many decades. Not so much “what did you do in the war Daddy?” but “how did your firm cope with Covid Chris?” will, I suspect, be a question I’m asked frequently in the future.
The answer is that it’s been difficult at times and we have sadly had to let go some good people, but, crucially, we kept our key senior staff and all our best performers and, while it would be untrue to say we’ve thrived, we have more than survived. In fact, December last year was one of the best months we’ve had, even pre-pandemic. Moreover, we have been recruiting again (further information on our new starts will follow in a few weeks) and when I asked one of the more long-established members of our team what they thought about the market last month they were much more confident than hitherto. “It’s deffo getting better,” was the gist of their reply and that is a sentiment I can relate to…
The most recent (Feb 2021) RBS/Markit statistics for the recruitment market in Scotland support the positive vibes that are emanating from the Peace team. For the economy as a whole, they report a “sustained upturn in permanent placements,” “Temp billings rise at a faster pace,” and “demand for both permanent and temporary staff increases.”
The Markit index as a whole is now back above 50 (the level that shows growth) for the second month in a row for perm jobs, with a better performance in February than January. Temp vacancies generally have performed well for some months, so, fingers crossed, we are now heading back into calmer waters for the foreseeable future.
Looking at Construction and Engineering specifically, the picture is far more buoyant. As the table below shows, for temp/contractor roles, the situation continues to improve, but it’s in perm jobs that we see the biggest improvement.
For the first time for many, many months, we can see the perm index for our industry rising above 50. In fact, as you can see, the growth in perm construction is greater than for any other sector. The changes we have had to implement at Peace over the last 11 months were painful at times but necessary. While others were battening down the hatches and praying for the storm to abate, we left people on the deck, keeping watch, maintaining client relationships and providing the same quality service as we did pre-pandemic. That strategy has, I believe, been vindicated as we see the market start to return. There will be troughs ahead, but I am confident the corner has been turned.
Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment