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REPEAT: REALITY CHECK: No Sign Of A Let Up In UK Labour Mkt

MNI (London)
Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 15:57 GMT Sep 12/11:57 EST Sep 12
--Skills Shortages Persist, Pushing "In Demand" Wages Steadily Higher 
By Jamie Satchithanantham
     LONDON (MNI) - The UK labour market continues to tick along in robust
shape, showing little signs of deterioration, despite historically elevated
levels of inflation and economic uncertainty, a leading recruitment specialist
group tells Market News.
     Interviewed for the latest UK labour market Reality Check series, Hays, a
consultancy who match workers with jobs in both the public and private sectors
across a range of expertise, said it seemed to be a case of more of the same.  
     "Despite an initial slowdown following the (Brexit) referendum and a slight
change again leading up to the general election, the last three months
post-election have seen business confidence remain largely positive," said a
director at the firm.
     Regional experts at Hays were questioned on developments in the job market
in the three months to August as a prelude to the official data, released
Wednesday.
     According to regional directors at Hays, employers were found having to
"compete for talent due to ongoing skill shortages in many sectors across the
UK", putting upward pressure of the overall level of wages offered to workers.
     With firms only able to choose from a scarce pool of adequate workers, the
competition between industry incumbents was said to be "fuelling counter-offers"
with firms "fighting to keep hold of their existing talent", giving the upper
hand to workers with in-demand skills.
     These themes match the sentiment found in other recent labour market
surveys. The most recent REC/Markit survey, for instance, registered the
quickest rate of pay inflation seen since October 2015 off the back of higher
staff vacancies and a drop in candidate availability.
     Whether this leads to a sizeable pick-up in nominal wage growth, however,
remains to be seen. Wages have languished almost exclusively in the 1.8% to 2.4%
range since mid 2016 and at 2.1% currently sit well below inflation at 2.9%. 
     The sluggish form of wages has been put down largely to almost non-existent
productivity growth in the UK post-financial crisis and without stronger levels
of business investment it may be a while before wage growth catches up the lost
ground.     
     The sectors that are seeing some form of investment, like engineering, IT
development and cyber security, have seen decent job growth in recent months,
according to Hays. 
     "Digital technology is a growing area, which is candidate-short and
permanent roles in development are also in high demand. In sight of this,
employers are being "more proactive than ever" in an attempt to retain their
specialist IT and digital staff, said Hays.
     On a regional basis, a "significant increase" in technology start-ups in
the Bristol area was identified with a number of businesses reportedly
relocating to the area from the capital to "take advantage of lower property
prices and salaries," one of the directors said.
     Moving away from tech to construction, Hays continued to see "an acute
shortage of skilled professionals available to meet requirements".
     Specifically, the shortages were particularly concentrated in areas such as
"planning, architecture, building surveying, infrastructure engineering,
quantity surveying and maintenance," said Hays -- those at a more senior or
managerial level as opposed to workers on the ground.
     Looking forward, Hays alluded to the sector faring better moving into 2018.
     "The tender pipeline into 2018 looks positive and there are numerous
projects currently underway across the UK," said Hays.
     "There are huge projects currently in early stages in South Wales,
including some inward investment from Europe. It's no surprise we are seeing
investment coming into this area given lower wages and a lower cost of living,
as well as greater access to the skills sought, particularly in manufacturing,"
they added. 
     With little progress made over the UK's separation from the European Union,
firms from all industries share the common quandary of what the trade landscape
will look like after the Article 50 window ends in March 2019. 
     Despite the associated uncertainty and apprehension, Hays said that firms
remain resolute.
     "Organisations are positively looking ahead and planning for the future,
hiring skilled professionals to build the teams needed to meet any expected
increase in business activity," they said.
     A 2017 Hays study showed that, following the referendum, "almost
three-quarters (73%) of organisations said they were planning to recruit in
2017" with businesses trying to maintain a sense of "business as usual" as the
UK continues to wade through the Brexit negotiations. 
     Demand within financial markets in London City continued to remain "steady"
following the sharp fall in demand post Brexit while there were also some "signs
of increases in recruitment for candidates in risk and compliance," they added.
     Elsewhere, in financial technology, a market Hays said was previously
dominated by temporary contracts, there had been an recruitment drive for
permanent positions as "candidates across data, cyber security and IT general
controls continue to be favoured due to changes in legislation and tightened
cyber security across the sector".
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com

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