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Contractor prospects not weakened by EU referendum concerns: REC JobsOutlook

Contractor prospects don’t appear to have been negatively affected by concerns over the looming EU referendum, as business sentiment amongst contractor clients remained strong during February. The sustained confidence looks set to continue to translate into opportunities as more firms recognise the integral role contractors play in delivering innovation.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) JobsOutlooks for March 2016 shows that 79% of firms believe economic conditions are improving, whilst 90% expect hiring confidence to either improve or remain the same.

“We’ve heard much in the way of warnings over the EU referendum and the potential impact it may have on the economy,” comments ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin.

“Demand for permanent staff has dipped slightly – possibly as a result of Brexit concerns. However, the ad-hoc nature of contracting means clients will continue to engage with contingent staff, who can offer their services without fears of softening demand.”

Contractors can expect the majority of opportunities to come courtesy of large corporations, 68% of which plan to increase contingent headcount over the next quarter. This marks a notable rise from 59% last month and 46% in February 2015.

Overall, 97% of clients plan to either increase or maintain contractor numbers over the next three months, whilst 95% plan to do the same over the medium term (4-12 months).

As the report highlights, demand remains high in spite of incoming travel and subsistence changes that are likely to result in many contractors increasing their rates - further demonstrating the value clients place in the contractor workforce.

Engineering maintained its top spot when clients were asked where they expect to experience the most recruiting challenges, suggesting that contractors in the sector shouldn’t find opportunities hard to come by.

However, as REC chief executive Kevin Green points out, satisfying demand in a sector where skills shortages are already entrenched poses a difficult challenge:

“Engineering is a particular area of concern – the government announced new major infrastructure projects in last week’s Budget, but there are question marks over how increased demand for skilled workers will be met when supply is already a problem.”

Meanwhile, 91% of clients report engaging with contractors to gain short-term access to key skills, almost double the amount who primarily look to contractors to help manage peaks in demand (47%).

Again, this shows that clients are engaging with contractors on an increasingly strategic basis, emphasising the importance of the contingent workforce in supplementing business development.

Published: 29 March 2016

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