The Midlands has entered a ‘two-speed’ jobs market – with a ‘war for talent’ among specialist professions such as accountancy and finance.

The hunt for highly-skilled practitioners is outpacing the general jobs market while many Finance Directors say more staff would be hired if budgets allowed, according to new research from leading recruiters Robert Half.

The findings come in the wake of the latest ONS employment figures which show the number of people in employment across the UK increased by 105,000 on the quarter and by 459,000 on the year to reach 30.19 million for November 2013 to January 2014.

A survey of 200 finance executives from companies across the UK, including 41 in the Midlands, shows that 66 per cent of finance chiefs would increase headcount if they had additional budget.

Over half (56 per cent) of Midlands-based respondents said they would employ between 11 per cent and 25 per cent extra staff in their finance and accounting teams if they had the budget, suggesting that support for businesses combined with business growth will contribute to job creation.

Competition for skilled finance professionals is increasingly at the heart of the hiring agenda, with nearly seven in 10 (68 per cent) finance directors stating that the ‘war’ for skilled finance professionals has increased over the past year.

Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half UK, said: “Increased economic confidence coupled with job creation and declining unemployment rates spell opportunity for Midlands-based businesses.

“However, still more needs to be done as many are challenged with finding the budget to hire the requisite staff to drive business growth, yet when funding prevails, facing a shortage of niche specialists.

“This is resulting in higher remuneration and a virtual ‘war for talent’ within the industry.”