RBS report finds new hires fall at record pace in Scotland as coronavirus hits jobs market

Temporary staff appointments plummeted at the quickest pace on record last month, as the coronavirus crisis hit the Scottish jobs market.

The Royal Bank of Scotland report found that companies scaled back recruitment amid the uncertainty caused by the global outbreak of Covid-19.

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest insight to the Scottish labour market found that both temp and permanent placements plummeted during March, as companies scaled back recruitment amid the uncertainty caused by the global outbreak of Covid-19.

The rate of contraction in permanent staff appointments was the most marked since the depths of the global financial crisis in April 2009, while short-term hires suffered the steepest fall since data collection began in January 2003, according to the lender.

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RBS said the stark figures illustrated the significant impact that emergency coronavirus control measures have had on Scottish businesses, along with the importance of state-backed support schemes.

Demand for permanent staff fell for the first time since September 2010, although the rate of decline was mild overall, and softer than that recorded at the UK level.

Pandemic ‘weighed’ on market

Temporary staff vacancies also declined during March, ending a record 124-month sequence of continuous growth. The slide in Scotland was part of a wider UK trend, although the fall north of the Border outstripped that seen at the national level.

Starting salaries awarded to permanent joiners in Scotland continued to rise, as has been the case in each month for more than seven years, although the rate of salary inflation softened.

Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at RBS, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic weighed heavily on the Scottish labour market in March. Permanent staff placements fell at the steepest rate since the global financial crisis over a decade ago, while temp billings declined at the sharpest rate since data collection began over 17 years ago.

“At the same time, demand for both permanent and short-term staff declined, with panellists reporting that firms had stopped hiring amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The reduction in permanent vacancies was the first since September 2010, while the fall in temp staff demand was the fastest since mid-2009.

“Overall, latest data highlighted the substantial impact of emergency measures and shutdowns that have taken place due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the vital importance of the government schemes put in place to safeguard livelihoods during this exceptional time.”

This comes as a separate study compiled by job search engine Indeed reported that Scotland saw the sharpest decline in year-on-year job postings for the two months to 3 April, likely reflecting high direct exposures to shutdown sectors.

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