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#ITjobs – it’s time for the ‘C’ word

#ITjobs – it’s time for the ‘C’ word

Posted on 11th November 2019

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"Businesses are still waiting to hear that starting gun, and until there is some certainty around Brexit and now the election, employers continue to stall on creating vacancies and making permanent hires.” 

Thus spake James Stewart, Vice President of KMPG, commenting on the UK Markit Report on Jobs. He’s not wrong.  Overall, the UK and Scottish job markets are, after a very lengthy period of robust growth, showing signs of the stress engendered by the politicians’ machinations of the last few years. 

This has been increasingly evident for a few months, but it should be stressed that it does not (yet) affect all sectors and in particular our own specialist area of IT is showing few, if any, signs of slowdown.  Mr Stewart again… “The IT and computing sector threw caution to the wind last month as the best performer in vacancy growth.”

That said, the IT world does not exist in a vacuum.  If the rest of the economy tanks, then we will surely be affected sooner or later. With that in mind, we should take note that the October Markit data “signalled a fourth consecutive monthly decline in permanent placements across Scotland.”  In contrast, recruitment agencies in Scotland “signalled an uptick in temporary billings in October, as has been the case in every month since July (although) growth eased for the second month running and was notably weaker than the long-run average.”

Many ascribe this to the continuing uncertainty over Brexit, made worse by an election, the results of which are hard to guess at present. However, at Be-IT we can only play the game in front of us and that’s IT recruitment.  Here, as you can see in the table below for Scotland, our industry continues to forge ahead, with demand from employers growing in both the permanent and contractor markets. 

Markit report October 2019

I’ve written before that the surge in contractor roles is understandable, with firms holding back on perm appointments until the smoke and mirrors of the politicians clears and we see where (if anywhere) we are going. The one thing we really need to have is that much maligned ‘c’ word – certainty.  An uncertain election result will do no-one any favours and, I suspect, will mean that the drift downwards in the overall economy will continue, especially if (and when) more major economies go into recession in the year ahead. With all this in mind, I can do no better than quote Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, with reference to the UK jobs market.

These figures underline why this needs to be a jobs election. The labour market is strong, but permanent placements have now dropped for eight months in a row, and vacancies growth has fallen to its lowest level since January 2012. One bright spark is the temporary labour market, which continues to provide flexible work to people and businesses that need it during troubled times. 

“Ending political uncertainty and getting companies hiring again is vital – but we must also look to the long-term future of work. Jobs must be front and centre during this election campaign, and we will be launching our REC manifesto for work next week. We will be urging all political parties to run on policies which support and enhance the UK’s flexible labour market.

I’d only add that these policies must cut the Gordian Knot that is the UK’s immigration policy, but other than that I endorse what’s said above.  Over to the politicians – and the voters!

Gareth Biggerstaff, CEO, Be-IT 

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