Labour market conditions north of the Border remained robust during the final month of the year and outperformed the national average, according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Jobs Market Report.
RBS chief economist Sebastian Burnside said the data indicated that Scotland’s job market had closed out the year “on a very strong footing”.
Permanent staff appointments in Scotland increased at a marked rate in the final month of 2018, with growth accelerating to hit 64.5 on the index, compared with 59 in November.
This was among the sharpest growth rates recorded since data collection began more than two decades ago and the rise outpaced that recorded for the UK overall, where growth slowed to a 20-month low.
A reading above 50 on the RBS index indicates an overall increase compared to the previous month, and below 50 an overall decrease.
Scotland’s recruitment agencies also recorded a lift in temporary placements, which rose to 61.2 on the index, continuing a year-long upward trend and outpacing the UK average.
Despite marked growth in demand for staff, survey data suggested that the availability of candidates to fill vacant roles continued to decline.
The supply of permanent staff fell at its quickest rate for one year, which could lead to restricted economic growth.
Of the eight sectors monitored by the report, the IT and computing sector led the way in terms of permanent vacancies, while hotel and catering was the only field in which permanent vacancies decreased.
Demand for temporary staff was strongest in nursing, medical and care worker positions, said the report.
The supply and demand imbalance for staff across the Scottish labour market contributed to another month of increasing pay for new hires in both long and short-term positions.
This was mirrored across the UK, with starting salaries inflating at a quicker rate on average than those seen in Scotland.
Burnside said: “Scotland’s labour market ended the year on a very strong footing according to latest survey data.
“Permanent and temporary staff appointments are continuing to rise sharply, while demand for both types of employees grew at marked rates.
“However, challenges to the jobs market are presented via the supply side.
“We continue to see Scottish recruiters reporting severe deteriorations in candidate availability, which is ultimately pushing up rates of pay for both short-term and permanent roles.
“Whether continued declines in labour supply begin to restrict growth in placements is yet to be seen.”