UK businesses continued to hire new staff at a marked pace in August, but demand for new workers rose at the fastest pace in more than two years, a fresh survey has suggested.

A poll of 400 recruitment firms by IHS Markit and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) revealed that permanent staff placements continued to rise sharply in August, with the rate of growth easing only slightly from July.

Demand for staff rose at the fastest pace since April 2015, with the REC saying there was a "significant shortage" of people to fill blue collar jobs.

"Employers are increasingly turning to recruitment agencies as it becomes harder to find the people to fill the jobs available," REC chief executive Kevin Green said.

Green added that businesses were seeking more managerial staff, with demand high for roles such as financial directors, analysts and compliance and HR professionals.

"Meanwhile, there is a significant shortage of people to fill blue collar roles such as drivers, electricians, and construction workers, and this is being exacerbated by a fall in net migration from the EU," he said.

Demand for permanent staff rose across all sectors in August, with the steepest increase seen in IT and computing, followed by accounting.

Growth of permanent placements was the strongest in the Midlands and the north of England, while London saw the slowest rate of expansion.

"In many areas of the jobs market candidate supply cannot meet demand," Green added. "Employers are having to offer more money to secure the people with the skills they need.

"Businesses can only grow if they have access the people and skills they need. It is essential that the government recognises this by developing an evidence-based immigration system that will support the economy."