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Latest data shows that December saw both temp billings and hourly pay rise rapidly as demand for staff continued to outstrip supply.

The REC and KPMG UK Report on Jobs found that the upturn in temp billings was broad-based across all four monitored English regions, with the quickest expansion seen in London and the softest in the Midlands.

Looking at the individual sectors, nursing/medical/care was unsurprisingly at the top of the rankings at the end of 2021.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, commented, “2022 will be the year we discover staff shortages will outlive the pandemic as an economic issue. This survey shows again how tight the labour market was at the end of last year. Demand for staff is growing across every sector and region of the UK, and candidate availability is still falling. These trends have been slowing for the past few months, but that is not surprising considering the record pace of change earlier in the autumn of 2021.”

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Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK, added, “The UK jobs market rocketed to near historic levels as New Year approached. That’s despite it losing a little fizz with the pace of accelerating demand for staff, wage and salary growth and vacancies all easing slightly.

“The data shows that the availability of staff is particularly pressing in the health and care sector, where demand for qualified personnel is running far hotter than availability of permanent and temporary candidates to fill roles. This has been exacerbated by Omicron, through sickness to workers and the need to self-isolate.

“The availability of workers is testing the resolve of employers across the economy and will likely cause distortion in recruitment patterns as businesses shift focus from long-term growth to short-term cover. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the business community’s ability to adapt to these new conditions and look to training and technology solutions to find a way forward.”

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