Contractor skills shortages emerging in Scotland: Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs

Contractor vacancies in Scotland reached a 31-month high, the decline in contractor availability was the steepest since December 2004, rates rose at their fastest pace since records began in January 2003, and yet billings rose at their slowest pace since March 2013.

All these indicators from July 2013’s Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs are pointing towards an emerging skills crisis in Scotland, where there are not enough suitably skilled contractors to fill all available assignments. Contractors ‘on the bench’ elsewhere in the UK might find work easier to come by in Scotland’s labour market.

“The number of vacancies for both permanent and temporary jobs increased strongly,” notes Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae. “Vacancy growth was marked in the engineering and construction sector.”

European – and fast becoming global – oil and gas capital Aberdeen showed the strongest increases in contractor placements and the heaviest fall in contractor availability, confirming that the UK oil and gas sector is booming. However, it was UK video games capital Dundee where rates increased the fastest.

All core contracting disciplines except for the executive and professional sector showed an increase in demand during July. Engineering and construction and IT and computing were in second and third place respectively, after nursing/medical/care.

Engineering and construction saw the fastest increase in demand for over two years, which is in line with the UK as a whole, as shown in the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)/KPMG Report on Jobs and other labour market data, such as the Association of Professional Staffing Companies’ (APSCo) Monthly Trends data.

The solid increase in demand for contractors in Scotland’s financial sector is an encouraging sign that the sector may be recovering.

The sharp fall in demand for interims, the fastest for four years, continues a generally negative trend lasting six months, during which only May saw demand in positive territory. This contrasts with the wider UK interim market, which has shown growth during each of the last six months.

MacRae concludes: “These results suggest rising business confidence is translating into a continuation of the recovery in the Scottish economy this summer.”

Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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