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Contract opportunities grow in core contracting disciplines as skills shortages worsen

Contractors with core contracting skills such as IT, engineering, interim management and construction are benefiting from increased contact opportunities caused by worsening skills shortages.

Roughly a third of contractor clients plan to increase their contingent worker headcount in the next 12 months, with virtually all of the remainder maintaining contractor numbers.

This is according to June 2015’s Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) JobsOutlook, which also highlights that the pace of hiring is increasing following a period of election uncertainty and as clients become more confident in the economy.

REC chief executive Kevin Green explains: “For workers the outlook is good. Starting salaries continue to rise as employers compete for talent, and permanent and temporary opportunities are available to those with the required skills and capability.”

However, Green warns that worsening skills shortages, whilst good for contractors, are less positive for the growth plans of contracting clients and UK plc: “Data shows that almost all businesses are operating at capacity and want to take on more staff to meet demand, but the reality is that chronic skills shortages are making this difficult.”

ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin notes that this month’s report highlights that clients are overwhelmingly choosing to hire contractors for ‘short term access to strategic skills’ and contractors typically earn more than their permanent counterparts.

“The UK’s highly skilled flexible workforce is no longer seen as a resource to cover sickness and maternity. Clients are increasingly recognising that using contractors to access their specialist skills is a source of competitive advantage.”

Medium sized and large contractor clients are the largest consumers of contractor services but the JobsOutlook shows that small firms and microbusinesses are not far behind. Chaplin explains: “81% of the UK’s large organisations higher contractors, but so do 75% of the smallest businesses.

“This further increases the scope for contractors to find work, as small to medium sized enterprises (SME) account for 60% of all hiring in the UK. It also shows that smaller clients are using contractors to meet their specialist skills needs and support growth plans.”

All of the skills sectors monitored by the JobsOutlook showed increased demand during June. According to the REC, this “reinforces sentiment towards both a general increase in demand for workers and the ‘just-in-time’ nature of UK’s resourcing strategy”.

Published: 22 July 2015

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