Contractor demand looks set to increase within a third of client organisations during the next 4-12 months, and concern among hirers is increasing about the difficulty of sourcing enough skilled engineers and technicians to fill 2013 contract vacancies.
The latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) JobsOutlook also highlights that it is the flexible workforce, such as contractors and agency workers, who have enabled the UK’s labour market to remain resilient.
“The soaring success of the UK jobs market is a direct result of businesses successfully adapting to the challenges faced in the recession,” notes REC chief executive Kevin Green.
“As this month’s figures show, flexibility has enabled our labour market to flourish. Employers are growing increasingly confident in the UK economy and making positive hiring decisions as they look forward to next year,” he adds.
Less positive for the economy, but good news for engineering contractors, is the “concern over the availability of agency workers”. Twenty-two percent of contractor clients are experiencing difficulties recruiting enough technical and engineering contractors.
Interestingly, 11% of clients are having problems hiring professional and managerial workers. The REC/KPMG Report on Jobs earlier in the month confirmed that the interim market was back in growth territory, but in Scotland the executive and professional sector experienced a fall in demand during July 2013.
The JobsOutlook also analyses how clients source their contractors and, despite the hype, social media is not being used by hirers: “For all the talk of social sourcing, these channels deliver just 3% of temporary workers,” says the report.
A less welcome trend is the reduction in contractor use to cover peaks in demand. In July 2012, the primary use of agency workers such as contractors was to cover peaks in demand. During July 2013, covering leave was the principal reason.
This may suggest a trend in clients increasing permanent headcounts, meaning client organisations are better able to manage increases in demand without needing contractors. The third most common reason for using contractors was reducing uncertainty, followed by reducing costs and responding to growth.