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Contract market recovers in Scotland, suggesting contractors should stay put

Contractors based in Scotland in the core contracting disciplines of IT & computing, engineering and accounting/financial have a compelling reason to stay as the market starts to pick up. This follows several months of the Scottish contract market softening.

The latest Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs survey shows a sharp decrease in the number of contractors available in April, alongside increased demand, albeit at a slower rate. If this trend continues, it could lead to the skills shortages already being experienced in contracting markets elsewhere in the UK.

This latest increase in demand for contractors and temporary workers was the least marked for over two years, with the survey noting it as “modest”. Nevertheless, average weekly billings for contractors, which had been stable in March, returned to growth at the start of the second quarter.

“Contractor billings and pay rates in Dundee rose significantly during April, indicating that the UK’s video games capital remains in rude health,” highlights ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin. “The only dip in contractor agency billings was recorded in Aberdeen, showing that the low oil price continues to have a negative impact on the oil and gas sector.”

Donald MacRae, chief economist at Bank of Scotland, was upbeat about the report’s findings: “Scotland’s labour market continued to improve in the month. The number of people appointed to both permanent and temporary jobs rose modestly while the number of vacancies increased in the month.

“Starting salaries rose sharply, and temp pay rates increased. These results suggest the Scottish economy continued to grow, albeit at a modest pace, in April.”

The sharpest rise in demand within the five core contracting disciplines was for IT & computing, which stayed in second place; engineering was up one position to third, while accounting/financial remained in fifth. The only decrease recorded was for executive and professional, still at the bottom of the table, showing that Scotland’s interim market continues to perform poorly.

The Bank of Scotland Labour Market Barometer, which provides a snapshot of the Scottish labour market’s overall health, echoes the findings of the survey, showing a slip to a 22-month low in April. Still, Scotland’s labour market conditions improved, remaining well above the 50.0 ‘no-change’ mark.

Published: 18 May 2015

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