On the 17th of February, The BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio show featured Anna Knight, team leader in our Edinburgh permanent division, who was invited along to be interviewed on the rising demand for people in the Scottish jobs market.
The interview has been transcribed below, as the recording is no longer available to listen to online.
David Henderson: According to the latest monthly stats from the Bank of Scotland, it found than January  saw the second fastest increase in permanent job vacancies in the survey’s eleven-year history. Anna Knight from Head Resourcing, one of the 100 or so companies that take part in this monthly survey joins us from Edinburgh.
You feed into this data – do you recognise the general picture that’s portrayed here that things are on the up?
Anna Knight: Absolutely yes, we noted a steady increase in vacancies throughout 2013 but there was a particularly steep increase towards the latter half of the year and coming into 2014.
DH: We’ve seen in recent years that people have been taking temporary positions to stay in the jobs market and to stay in employment – is there any evidence now that they are moving back into permanent work now that things are picking up a bit?
AK: Not really no, the contract and temporary market is exceptionally busy at the moment as well – in fact the demand is at its highest level in over 6 years – I think that while certain people might have moved into contract or temporary roles a couple of years ago in order to stay in employment, they’re staying there by choice at the moment because there is some really lucrative contract work out there. Saying that, I do think we will start to see people moving back into permanent employment relatively soon but we’re just not quite there yet.
DH: So employees are choosing to stay in temporary employment because it suits them, does it also suit the companies as well to keep people on a temporary basis, because I suppose they’re not having to pay pensions it gives them a degree of flexibility – is that also happening?
AK: In certain circumstances, yes. I think that now there is more optimism and stability in the market employers are definitely looking to move into a more permanent employee workforce. They’re definitely trying to encourage people into permanent work, but at the moment as the contract market is so buoyant, people aren’t necessarily welcome to that.
DH: Where is the demand? We know that sectors like IT have always been pretty buoyant, even in the depths of the downturn, where else are we seeing that sort of pickup in employment?
AK: You’re right, there has always been a relatively buoyant IT market across Scotland, although saying that there was a significant decrease in demand during the recession in around 2008/2009. I specialise in technology, but I believe at this point the high demand seems to be across many sectors, most noticeably accounting and finance, nursing and healthcare, and engineering.
DH: What sort of impact does this have on wages, does this extra demand and more permanent jobs automatically feed through into bigger wage packets as well?
AK: Inevitably competition in the market and more demand will cause salaries to increase, but it’s worth remembering though in recent years within the private sector salaries have remained fairly static, so probably the most recent increases are more noticeable. Companies are also starting to recognise the need to retain staff as well, as it’s quite costly and difficult at the moment to replace them. They’re also looking to incentivise their current employees whether it be through increasing pay, benefits, and rewards schemes in order to keep their employees engaged, happy and fulfilled in their current jobs.
DH: So where does it go from here then? You’re speaking to employers on a pretty regular basis – do they remain cautious about the future, are they feeling optimistic? How do they feel?
AK: Certainly, yes. –There is a good amount of optimism across the market; certainly the conversations I’m having with our clients are very much around growth, expansion, and investing in people – there is a really positive message out there which is great to hear. But tempered with that is a slight amount of caution, because at the moment the supply can’t meet the demand, so it’s actually quite difficult to find these additional people in the market.