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Robert Walters sees wages rise as firms race to hire in ‘global war for talent’

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Recruiter Robert Walters has posted record half-year figures thanks to a race among firms to hire as coronavirus restrictions ease amid a “global war for talent”.

The group said demand for workers is far outstripping supply due to “acute” shortages of professionals, which is pushing up wages as employers look to attract and keep staff.

Salary hikes of up to 30% are now “commonplace” for some hard-source roles across the UK, according to the firm.

Robert Walters put the worldwide staff shortages down to restrictions on “talent mobility” and a lack of immigration caused by the pandemic.

Its results showed that pre-tax profits jumped to £22.1 million for the six months to June 30, from £4.3 million a year earlier, or 10% higher versus pre-pandemic interims in 2019, due to the recruitment surge as restrictions lifted.

It said: “A global war for talent is under way, driven by acute shortages of professionals across almost all disciplines.

“The shortages are uniquely acute during this period due to the restrictions on talent mobility caused by the pandemic.

“Significant wage inflation is emerging across a number of markets as organisations battle to both attract and retain key talent.”

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In the UK, net fee income fell 3% to £35.2 million, but earnings surged to £3.3 million from zero a year ago amid “pent-up demand for talent” following uncertainty over Brexit and the pandemic.

The firm said hiring activity was strongest in London and across the commerce finance, legal and technology sectors.

Its performance across the Asia-Pacific region – its biggest division, which accounts for 45% of net fee income – showed net fee income up 15% to £73.7 million and earnings soaring to £14 million from £2.9 million a year ago.

The group said: “Trading is comfortably ahead of current market expectations for the full year, and we enter the second half of the year with cautious optimism and confidence that we will continue to take advantage of market opportunities as they arise.”

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