New research suggests parts of the Midlands white collar recruitment market are showing signs of recovery – although the financial services sector is still being hit hard.

A new report showed improvement in the HR, commerce and industry recruitment sectors in the region in the second quarter of the year.

But recruitment activity in the financial services sector continued to fall in the last three months as redundancy programmes were rolled out, according to the second quarter recruitment market update for the Midlands, compiled by employment firm Robert Walters.

Meanwhile, a separate study published today shows factory and other blue collar workers have been hit harder than white collar staff by rising levels of unemployment.

The Robert Walters report states: “Despite the ongoing economic challenges within commerce and industry we witnessed an increase in hiring activity during quarter two in comparison to quarter one.

“Although several high-profile businesses with headquarters in the Midlands made redundancies, most notably in the brewing industry, and sectors such as automotive, construction and property continued to suffer, there were signs of market improvement.

“Several organisations relocated to the region and launched recruitment drives as a result.”

It continued: “Recruitment activity within the financial services sector continued to fall throughout quarter two as redundancy programmes were announced and implemented.

“This severely impacted both front office operations, such as sales and services, as well as central support functions – including finance.”

Researchers also found that hiring activity in the IT sector in the Midlands remained stable in quarter two, and recruitment in the legal sector also showed signs of improving after being hit by the recession in the past year.

The jobs market in the West Midlands has been among the hardest hit by the recession. Latest figures show 249,000 are now out of work in the West Midlands – an unemployment rate of 9.3 per cent, which is the highest in the country.

Meanwhile, research published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed that views of the current downturn being a white collar recession were “wide of the mark.”

The rise in the blue collar unemployment rate in the year to March was three times greater than for workers with managerial and professional skills, according to researchers.

The relatively lower rise in white collar unemployment was partly explained by continued growth in public sector employment and the fact that skilled managers and professionals had a better chance of making an early return to work when they lost their jobs, said the report.

In contrast, skilled blue collar tradesmen and women had been hit hard by the recession in the manufacturing and construction sectors, with the least skilled workers being the biggest losers in the jobs downturn.

John Philpott, chief economist at the CIPD said: “The unemployment figures clearly show that blue collar manual workers have suffered most.”