Mixed signals for employment market

Mixed signals on the jobs front have been published, with news of an increase in vacancies but more competition for work.

The number of vacancies increased last month, although there was a slight fall in permanent placements of staff, centred on London, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG.

Demand for temporary workers increased but there was a further reduction in public sector vacancies, the research found.

Meanwhile jobs website totaljobs.com said competition for jobs has started to increase, with 18 applicants for every vacancy following a "dramatic" fall in jobs in London in recent months, particularly in the financial sector.

Nationally, the number of available jobs rose by 5% in the last quarter compared with a year ago, but prospects varied across the country. There were 7% fewer jobs in London in the quarter to September compared to a year ago, with falls in the financial sector, catering and hospitality, said the report.

Totaljobs said the study suggested that despite the impact on employment of the Olympics, London vacancies have declined, suggesting that the long-term employment benefits of the Games have not been realised.

John Salt, director of totaljobs.com, said: "Although today's figures show increases in the number of jobs available, it seems that the prediction of green shoots in the overall labour market earlier this year might have been all too soon. It's worrying to see such a fall in jobs available in London, arguably a barometer for the UK employment market as a whole. Finance has consistently been seen as a stalwart in the capital's jobs market and such a drop indicates a difficult winter ahead.

"What's more, it remains an employers' market and jobseekers continue to face rising competition for work as the issue of underemployment, where few full-time jobs are being created and the number of people forced into part-time work or self-employment continues to rise, is hiding a level of joblessness that is only just starting to be fully realised."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman commented on the REC/KPMG study. He said: "This report presents a picture of an expanding, and increasingly confident, jobs market.

"The current climate has been tough for jobseekers, and there are still economic challenges ahead, but this report shows that increasingly there are jobs out there. There are currently around 420,000 vacancies in the economy, and Jobcentre Plus is adding on average 10,000 jobs to its books every working day."