THE UK’s biggest recruitment firm today said private sector demand was propping up the jobs market amid reduced public sector activity.
Hays said the overall picture in the UK and Ireland was one of "continued stability" after quarter-on-quarter net fees were broadly flat in the three months to the end of March.
It reported modest growth in private sector business, offset by continuing weakness in the public sector, particularly in administrative and other non-front line placements. Overall, Hays said public sector net fees declined 19% against the same period a year earlier.
Hays said the third quarter of its financial year was also affected by the weather after snow resulted in a number of lost temporary placement days.
Across the business, which generates around 57% of its revenues from outside the UK, net fees were down 10% on a like-for-like basis against the same period a year earlier. However, there was a 2% rise on the previous quarter, led by an improvement of 7% in Asia Pacific.
There was modest quarter-on-quarter growth in its continental Europe region, with Germany improving as the period progressed.
Chief executive Alistair Cox said: "We have continued to see progress in most of our markets, although the dynamics vary by region."
He added: "In the UK, we are seeing sequential growth in the private sector offset by reductions in the public sector."
Where markets are recovering, Hays said it was increasing capacity and selectively recruiting in order to meet growing demand.