By Daniel Hunter

Despite encouraging employment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the downward trend in professional vacancies is continuing with the latest data from The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) revealing an average year on year fall of almost 8% across permanent and temporary vacancies.

The IT sector suffered the biggest drop with year on year vacancies falling by over 12%. APSCo says that this rather bleak picture is tempered by the fact that the number of professionals being placed in temporary assignments is still rising — the data shows a jump of 4.5 % year on year with the most notable increases evident in Marketing & Media ( 9%) and IT (6.5%).

This sector specific rise in temporary placements directly correlates with the drop in permanent placements suggesting that in the IT sector, organisations are tapping into talent pools as and when they need them to resource finite projects. The media and marketing sector however is a different story. While the number of people being placed into permanent roles has fallen significantly, vacancies are still rising suggesting a marked skills shortage which is being plugged by the use of temporary staff.

“Employers still haven’t got the confidence to invest in permanent hires against this backdrop of on-going uncertainty. However recent data from the PMI Index has revealed that the services sector, which accounts for more than three quarters of economic output, has returned to growth," Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo said.

"This, coupled with other positive economic indicators in recent weeks makes me bullish about the first quarter of 2013 from a hiring perspective.”

The trends report also found that average salaries declined on a year by year basis within the professional sectors of engineering, IT, and financial services but remained relatively stable in sales and marketing.

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