Contractor clients’ short- and medium-term intention to hire contractors has doubled over the last 12 months, and nearly trebled over the last two years.
This is according to the latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) JobsOutlook, which also confirms that contractor prospects are looking very positive. It highlights that 36% of clients plan to increase their use of contractors over the next three months, and a third of clients plan increases over a 4-12 month timescale.
And the JobsOutlook continues to demonstrate the importance of contractors and flexible workers to the UK economy, as four fifths of clients now believe that flexible workers are “increasingly helping organisations to meet their corporate objectives and strategy”.
“As business picks up, employers continue to appreciate the value of agency workers,” notes REC CEO Kevin Green. “Temporary agency workers are a vital part of the UK’s labour market, allowing employers to flex their workforce in response to fluctuating demand.”
However, the report also warns of skills shortages: “Concerns over sufficient availability of agency workers with technical/engineering and professional/managerial skills points to employers’ continuing need for key strategic resources to be engaged on a flexible basis.”
Large clients with over 200 employees continue to dominate contractor demand, which is accelerating within these large organisations. However, micro-businesses are bucking the trend. Businesses with 1-10 employees are turning away from hiring permanent employees to sustain growth and increasingly hiring flexible workers.
If this trend continues, it suggests a shift in mindset by the UK’s smallest business towards appreciating the benefits flexible workers, including contractors and freelancers, can bring to their business.
The report’s analysis of workforce planning in the private and public sectors shows the differences between the two lessening. But despite the fact that the public sector is taking fewer measures to cut employment costs, redundancies and reduced hours are still prevalent.
Indirectly, this will benefit contractors, as there is ample evidence that public sector clients are turning to flexible workers to maintain services whilst reducing employment costs.