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Contract opportunities boom across Scotland, as index returns to pre-recession levels

Contractor availability has deteriorated across Scotland at a rate not seen since December 2004. This sharp fall in Scotland-based contractors looking for contracts suggests that there are opportunities for contractors from elsewhere in the UK who are willing to travel.

This is according to October 2013’s Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs, which also highlights that contractor demand and contract vacancies across all contracting areas continues to increase, further strengthening the contract numbers remaining unfilled.

“Demand for staff rose at a marked pace across all sectors while the number of people appointed…rose sharply in the month,” notes Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae. “The recovery in the Scottish economy is showing through in growing employment and rising pay.”

This month’s report also shows that the Labour Market Barometer, a key index measuring the health of Scotland’s labour market, reached the highest point in six years, “taking the index back to pre-recession levels”.

The core contracting disciplines have slid down the demand league table, with three of the areas – engineering & construction, accounts & financial and executive & professional – occupying fifth, seventh and eighth places respectively.

But this positioning at the lower end is more to do with huge increases in demand in areas such as nursing/medical/care, hotel & catering and secretarial & clerical than a slackening of contractor demand. In fact, Scotland’s interim executive market is in positive territory for the first time in five months, despite continuing to languish at the bottom of the table.

Alongside the fall in contractor availability, demand, vacancies and billings during October increased, although the increase in pay actually slowed. This paints a picture of a contracting sector in Scotland which is on the brink of the increasingly broader-based skills shortages experienced by the wider UK.

However, those sectors already experiencing skills shortages continue to worsen. Scotland’s skills shortages in engineering and oil and gas are marked, and evidenced by Aberdeen leading the fall in contractor availability and experiencing the highest increase in rates.

Scotland’s recruiters have also specifically highlighted the shortage of engineers across all disciplines, and because a similar situation exists throughout the UK, this could present an opportunity for expat contractors from further afield.

Published: 18 November 2013

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