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50% of clients to take on more contractors over next three months

Contractor clients are looking to the UK’s flexible workers to fulfil their need for specialist strategic skills and to help manage growth capacity. This is according to the April 2014 JobsOutlook from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). The report also highlights that half of clients plan to increase contractor headcounts over the next three months.

“Being able to access high quality flexible staff to meet variations in demand has been vital to British businesses during the downturn,” says REC chief executive Kevin Green. “Now we see that the majority of employers who are using flexible resource are doing so to fill talent shortages.”

The number of contractor clients hiring contractors to enable “short-term access to key strategic skills” has increased from 60% in March 2012 to 78% in April 2014.

The importance of contractors in providing capacity management solutions has also increased. In March 2012, only 25% of clients used contractors in this way. By April 2014, 48% of clients said contractors are “important to help them respond to growth”.

Skills shortages across the core contracting disciplines continue to plague contractor clients. The report notes: “From a front-line perspective, it is the need for technical, engineering and IT skills that are consistently at the fore.”

Green highlights the importance of contractors in fulfilling these needs: “As scarcity of skills continues to be an issue in key sectors like IT, engineering and logistics, contractors, interim managers and agency workers are becoming more important than ever to help businesses quickly access the skills they need to stay competitive.”

In addition to their traditional corporate and blue-chip client base, contractors may also wish to consider targeting the UK’s smallest companies for work. REC reports that “there was a marked 29% rise in positive short-term hiring sentiment among microbusinesses” over the last quarter.

Whether this is as a result of growth ambitions or because small companies now prefer outsourcing and subcontracting to taking on employees is not clear. But what is being shown is an increasing appetite among small firms to hire contractors.

Published: 24 April 2014

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