Recruiter Hays has hailed September as its best month since the pandemic struck as firms worldwide scramble to secure talent amid a skills shortage.
he group saw like-for-like fees jump 41% in its first quarter to the end of September, with last month delivering the strongest fees since the start of the Covid-19 crisis and a record performance across a raft of sectors and countries.
Hays boss Alistair Cox said the group is seeing “clear signs of skill shortages and wage inflation, particularly at higher salary levels”.
It comes as firms are resorting to hiking wages and boosting reward packages to attract and retain staff, with vacancies in the UK standing at nearly 1.2 million last month.
There is soaring demand for staff worldwide as the economy recovers from the pandemic, but for Britain this is coupled with a skills shortage caused by a dearth of European workers since Brexit.
Hays saw one of its best regional performances in the UK and Ireland, where net fees jumped 45% year-on-year.
But fees in the division, which accounts for a nearly a quarter (23%) of group-wide fees, have yet to catch up to pre-pandemic levels – down 5% against the first quarter in 2019-20.
It saw the fastest growth in the UK and Ireland across the human resources sector, where fees more than doubled – up 127% – and soared 94% for office support, boosted by the mammoth hiring spree.
Hays has also been hiring itself to match the increased demand, expanding its UK and Ireland consultant headcount by 4% quarter-on-quarter and by 15% on a year ago.
It had more than 10,800 employees worldwide across 33 countries at the end of June, but this has risen after a 19% year-on-year rise in the headcount between July and September.
Alongside the UK and Ireland, the rest of the world division also saw 45% growth in net fees, followed by a 39% rise in Germany – its largest market -and a 34% increase in Australia and New Zealand.
Shares in the group rose 3% in morning trading on Thursday.
Mr Cox said: “We have made a strong start to our financial year, with sequential fee growth in all major markets.
“Twelve countries produced record net fees, including the USA and China, and our global Hays technology business also hit record fees.”