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Round-up of the week

Posted on 6th March 2015

Three things caught our eye this week, including new figures showing that permanent staff placements and temp billings have both risen recently.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG, permanent staff placements went up in February at their fastest rate in four months. Meanwhile, the surge in temp billings was the highest seen in five months.

This coincided with an increase in the number of vacancies for people seeking work and a rise in salaries for both permanent and temporary staff.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, observed: "Recruiters are reporting talent shortages across the economy as businesses expand in response to increasing demand.

"This is a major challenge for employers, however those seeking work are feeling the benefit."

Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, added that the recovery in the job market is "gaining real traction" right now. This, he said, should help to boost consumer confidence ahead of the general election.

Nevertheless, Mr Brown acknowledged that the availability of skilled candidates is currently a "significant concern" and said competition to secure top talent is fierce.

As a result, salaries are being driven upwards, particularly in sectors where this is a strong mismatch between supply and demand.

CBI: Economic growth remains strong

A new report from the CBI makes positive reading for both recruiters and jobseekers, with figures showing the economy continued growing at a strong pace during the three months to February.

The business group is therefore confident this positive trend will be seen in the next quarter, with the growth rate being even higher.

Rain Newton-Smith, director of economics at the CBI, said the economy is "heading steadily around the track" and described the fact that growth expectations are upbeat across all sectors as "encouraging".

However, she pointed out that while lower oil prices mean costs for firms are lower and drivers have a little bit more money in their pockets, the North Sea oil oil industry is being "hit hard".

Furthermore, Ms Newton-Smith said businesses are still "keeping a close eye on developments in the eurozone, which is fending off deflation, particularly with heightened uncertainty over Greece's fiscal position".

UK climbs up Women in Work Index

The UK has gone up four places in the new Women in Work Index from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Britain now ranks 14th in a list of 27 OECD countries, up from 18th last year.

Gaenor Bagley, head of people and executive board member at PwC, said it is good to see the UK is gaining ground when it comes to female economic empowerment.

However, she said the fact that there is still a relatively low number of women in full-time employment is stopping the country gaining ground with countries at the top of the index - Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

Ms Bagley added that Britain can make "real progress" if it solves the "culture challenge" and fosters an environment where women are able to be confident and ambitious.

"This often means getting the basics, such as how people are assessed and rewarded at work, right," she said.