Sharp fall in Scottish full-time recruitment reported
The jobs market has seen a "substantial decline" in people starting full-time jobs since the start of the year, according to a regular survey of recruiters.
The hiring index is by the Markit data firm, with recruitment consultants REC.
It reflected a sharp decline of both permanent placements and of people available for them.
There was, however, a rise in demand for permanent and temporary staff during January.
The sector which has consistently shown the highest level of demand for recruits is nursing, medicine and care, followed by engineering and construction.
A forecast by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), also published on Wednesday, reckons there will be 12,000 recruits needed in the next five years, as workers leave the sector or leave the country.
It expects the total number of construction workers to decline, as major infrastructure contracts, including the Queensferry Crossing, wind down from very high levels.
Growth in the home-building and repair market is on track to be between only 1% and 2%.
Ian Hughes, a director at CITB, said: "While we have factored Brexit into this forecast, there remain many unknowns to life after leaving the EU.
"We will be working with our industry to understand what it means for our migrant workforce and what we must do to attract and grow more of our own."
The REC/Markit recruitment survey showed starting salaries on the rise, but not as fast as a parallel survey showed for the rest of Britain.
Overall, the picture looked weaker than the figures across the rest of Britain, where other recent survey evidence has shown the jobs market to be markedly stronger.
Recruitment consultants reported that there has been a rise in employment of temporary staff, at the fastest pace for more than a year.
Hourly rates of pay for temporary staff were up, but the pace of wage inflation eased.
Kevin Green, chief executive of REC, commented: "The jobs market in Scotland continued to deteriorate in January, with recruiters reporting a decline in permanent placements for the fourth consecutive month.
"Scotland's economy is not as strong as the rest of the UK. The energy sector has weakened, and ongoing political uncertainty is affecting business confidence.
"Vacancies in Scotland remain in growth, so demand for staff is robust, despite employers showing hesitancy when it comes to investment decisions. This suggests the market could pick up again if confidence is restored".
The survey covers around 100 recruitment and employment consultants in Scotland.