Permanent placements in the UK have increased at the quickest pace in one year in February, according to 'Report on Jobs' published on Wednesday by IHS Markit and Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The report, as seen by IBTimes UK, revealed that placements made by recruitment agencies continued to increase in the second month of 2017. Rate of increase picked up from January's four month low. This growth was supported by higher business activity and increased demand for staff.

According to Kevin Green, CEO of the confederation, permanent placements have reached a 12-month high, however, firms across the country are finding it difficult to hire people for these roles.

"This is a good time for individuals prepared to move jobs, with bumper pay offers on the table as hirers compete to secure the talent available. In the context of rising inflation and stagnating pay growth, changing employers is becoming a more attractive option for those looking for more money," he said.

Region-wise, all four English regions saw an increase in permanent placements. For Scotland, this marked the first expansion since September 2016.

Overall demand for staff reached an 18-month high in February. The report's vacancy index reading came in at 63 for last month, which was higher than both the neutral 50 threshold and January's 62.3 reading. Demand for both permanent and temporary staff saw an uptick.

Private firms saw more vacancies than public sector companies, the report said. Sector-wise, demand for permanent jobs rose across all categories with strongest increases seen for engineering, IT & Computing and nursing/medical/care staff.

Meanwhile, in the temporary/contract staff category, demand was seen most for the engineering sector followed by nursing/medical/care and blue collar. In contrast, the slowest growth in this case was seen for executive/professional staff.

Starting salaries for people placed in permanent roles and hourly pay rates for temporary staff both increased in February.

However, growth in temp billings softened to a four-month low in February. While billings received by recruitment agencies from the employment of contract staff increased in February, the growth rate eased when compared to December's recent high. It was further the slowest rate seen since October 2016.

The report also showed a fall in staff availability for both permanent and temporary roles. While the rate of reduction was the steepest in 13 months for the former category, the trend in the latter marked the 44th months of consecutive reduction.

REC CEO Kevin Green said, "Although permanent placements have hit a 12 month high, businesses across the UK are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit for permanent roles. The big question still remains about how employers will fill their vacancies.

"The Chancellor is expected to announce a boost for vocational training in today's budget and this is very welcome. However, it won't solve the immediate need for people to fill jobs. We're already seeing acute staff shortages in a variety of sectors, from healthcare to engineering. This is likely to get worse, especially if the Government continues to refuse the rights of EU citizens living in the UK post-Brexit."