Hiring activity rose sharply for both temporary and permanent staff in April, as the UK began to emerge from its third national lockdown and more parts of the economy reopened.
Overall vacancies expanded at the fastest at the quickest rate for 23 years, according to data compiled by KPMG and REC.
Demand for permanent staff outpaced that seen for temporary roles, with the former rising at the quickest rate since March 1998 and the latter to the greatest extend since October 2014.
However, the number of candidates available dropped, as many people were reluctant to seek new roles amid concerns over job security, which in turn drove notable increases in starting salaries and temp pay, according to the data.
Starting salaries inflation hit a 14-month high, while temp pay growth improved to its best for a year-and-a-half.
Last month the easing of national lockdown restrictions means non-essential retail could open for the first time in months, and hospitality venues could serve customers outside.
Claire Warnes, partner and head of education, skills and productivity at KPMG UK, said: “There’s a lot to feel positive about this month, with the easing of lockdown improving business confidence in the economy and in turn driving a sharp rise in recruitment.
“However, it’s concerning that we’re seeing a drop in candidate supply due in part to applicants needing support to adapt their skills to move from displaced sectors to those where there is more demand, such as health and care, and because the furlough scheme has reduced the pool of workers.”
REC chief executive Neil Carberry added: “The message for government and employers alike is that the long-term challenge is less likely to be high unemployment than attracting and training enough staff to keep our economy firing.
“Companies need to be thinking about their workforce planning and employee offer, which professional recruitment firms are best placed to support them with. Government needs to urgently tackle shortfalls in the skills system, and make sure the new immigration system is more responsive to our economic needs.”