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Contractor demand in Scotland increases at fastest pace in six years during August

Contractor demand in Scotland rose again during August 2013, with recruiters reporting vacancies increasing at the fastest rate for six years and agency billings rising for the fourteenth consecutive month, shows the latest Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs.

“There were marked increases in demand for staff in IT, computing, engineering and construction,” notes Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae. “Rising business confidence is translating into increasing employment and a further strengthening of the recovery in the Scottish economy.”

The top three spots in the demand league table have not changed since July. The nursing, medical and care sector continues to dominate and engineering and construction remains in second place, albeit with contractor demand increasing significantly faster than in July.

IT & computing remains in third place but, although still growing strongly, demand has eased during August. Scotland’s financial sector continues its slow recovery. Demand for accounting and finance contractors is accelerating, with the fastest rise in contract vacancies in the sector for 15 months.

Scotland’s interim managers remain in the doldrums. The executive and professional sector is in negative territory for the third month running, although it is only a few points away from being in growth territory.

With demand and billings both so strong, it is not surprising that contractor availability fell steeply during August, the second-fastest since December 2004. With rates rising sharply, it is likely that skills shortages will start to emerge, or get worse, in some sectors. That may result in contractor rates rising further.

Video games capital Dundee was the location showing the fastest increase in agency billings and had the sharpest increase in pay levels. Oil and gas capital Aberdeen experienced the strongest deterioration in contractor availability.

The Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs includes a Labour Market Barometer. This is calculated using a combination of worker demand, the availability of workers, and pay across both the permanent and contracting sectors.

Significantly, August’s Labour Market Barometer showed the second strongest improvement in Scottish labour market conditions since September 2007, which bodes well for contractor prospects.

Published: 16 September 2013

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