LONDON (Reuters) - British employers struggled to find the staff they needed in January, forcing them to increase starting salaries for permanent staff at the fastest pace in nine months, a survey showed on Wednesday.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said demand for staff hit a 17-month high, reflecting strong momentum in Britain’s economy despite last year’s Brexit vote shock. But permanent placements rose at the softest pace since September.
“Employers are crying out for people to fill vacancies,” REC Chief Executive Kevin Green said.
“If businesses can’t find the people they need they will outsource abroad, automate activity or shut up shop, resulting in fewer jobs available to UK nationals.”
Green said the decision by Prime Minister Theresa May to prioritise immigration control in Britain’s negotiations over its new relationship with the European Union meant finding candidates would grow harder still in the future.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and other BoE officials said last week they were watching out for a build-up of inflation pressures in the labour market as the central bank continues to keep interest rates at a record low.
Britain’s unemployment is at an 11-year low, but the BoE says it believes the rate could fall further before it began to push up prices in the economy.
REC said growth in pay rates for temporary weakened from a seven-month high in December.
Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce