Job vacancies up, but more applying
Recruitment firms have reported a modest increase in job opportunities, but more people are chasing each vacancy.
Research among 400 recruitment and employment consultancies showed that permanent appointments increased for the first time in four months during January, although there was a fall in temporary jobs.
Engineers and construction workers were most in demand, compared with fewer positions for hotel and catering staff, according to the report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG.
Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: "This month's report highlights that there are glimmers of hope for the UK jobs market with permanent placements increasing for the first time in four months.
"This is the first positive indicator for some time that employers are looking to hire staff despite the ongoing weakness of the economy.
"It is particularly encouraging that six out of eight sectors surveyed show growth in demand, including engineering, IT and office professionals."
Bernard Brown, head of business services at KPMG, said: "Given the continued impasse surrounding the eurozone and the knock-on effect this has on business confidence, it is a welcome surprise to see a modest increase in the number of permanent job placements across the UK. Perhaps employers are beginning to accept that they need to have the right people in place to kick-start the economy.
"Sadly, though, the number of people hoping to fill these vacancies continues to rise and, with unemployment benefit claimants up for the 10th month in succession, the competition to be the right candidate in the right place is tougher than ever."