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Contractor demand set to benefit from buoyant economic climate, says REC JobsOutlook

Contractors look set to benefit from improving economic conditions, with increased confidence in the market looking to drive an anticipated surge in hiring contingent staff.

This is according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) JobsOutlook for September 2015, which reports that 98% of businesses are set to either maintain or increase their reliance on contractors, with 94% of contractor clients operating at a maximum permanent headcount.

The anticipated contractor hiring trends appear to be strategic rather than to cope with absences and capacity fluctuations. Companies report only marginal differences with regards to hiring intentions between their short-term outlook (up to three months) and their medium-term outlook (4-12 months). This means many of the contingent workforce can expect to look forward to ongoing, secure contracts throughout much of the year.

This good fortune comes amidst a steady wave of optimism, with 74% of businesses reporting greater confidence in the current economic climate. Consequently, many companies are keen to maximise their potential and productivity through hiring temporary staff.

“Employers are consistently telling us about the importance of temporary workers, especially in areas where there are skills shortages. People with managerial experience are especially in demand, and this points to the need within many businesses to implement changes in order to boost productivity,” highlights REC chief executive Kevin Green.

The majority of the 600 employers surveyed emphasised the importance of contractors, with 73% reporting to use contingent staff in order to provide them with short-term access to key strategic skills. Further, 56% of employers acknowledged the superior cost-effectiveness of the contractor workforce, by highlighting that they hired contractors in certain instances to reduce business costs.

Meanwhile, core contracting disciplines have been shown to account for a significant amount of the skills that employers expect to experience a shortage of over the next 12 months. These include professional and managerial skills, as well as technical and engineering skills, with 16% of employers expecting a shortfall in the former category, and 10% in the latter.

However, the survey also highlights that this projected shortage is down to a genuine lack in availability of sufficiently skilled workers, as opposed to staff not wishing to engage with companies, emphasising the need for contractors to continue to invest in training and development to maintain their skillset in order to stay in demand.

“The omens are looking good for contractors,” notes ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin. “The improved economic climate means employers are all keen to increase productivity, and many of them require flexibility to do so.

“More so, skills shortages are, as ever, a factor. Contractors who are operating in the worst affected sectors, and who can identify this as an opportunity, will be looking to cash in.”

Published: 23 September 2015

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