Contractor prospects have begun the year on a high note, with high confidence in market conditions from contractor clients looking set to translate into rising numbers of contracts.
This is according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) JobsOutlook for January 2016 which shows that four in five businesses consider economic conditions to be improving, compared with just 15% who believe conditions are worsening. As a result, 97% of clients expect either static or improved hiring prospects.
Significantly, with the outstanding majority of contractor clients (94%) operating with very limited capacity to take on more work, many of those who want to capitalise on the buoyant economic climate are expected to look towards contractors as catalysts for business growth.
“Businesses want to hire so that they can take on more work. But with fewer candidates available, employers need to take a thoughtful approach to bring in the skills they need,” explains REC director of policy Tom Hadley.
Over the next three months, almost half (48%) of clients plan to engage more with contractors, whilst 51% plan to maintain their contractor headcounts. Notably, only 1% of firms are planning to reduce their reliance on contingent staff within this period. Medium-term prospects look similarly promising, with only 4% of clients anticipating a reduction in contractor use.
Engineering contractors can expect to find contracts easy to come by, with the sector coming out on top when clients were asked what skills they expect to be competing for most. Meanwhile, professional and managerial skills came in third in the demand league table.
“The results from this month’s JobsOutlook confirm that companies are increasingly looking towards contractors as a means of driving business growth and innovation,” highlights ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin.
“As long as the economy remains buoyant and businesses continue to seek out opportunities for expansion, contractors should find sourcing new contracts less of a challenge.”
The tangible benefits that contractors provide has once again been underlined by figures showing that 82% of firms engage with contingent staff in order to gain short-term access to key strategic skills.
When compared with the notable drop-off in terms of firms highlighting their use of contractors in managing peaks and troughs, this suggests that clients are increasingly utilising contractors more strategically on an ongoing basis.
This is backed up by the fact that 47% of firms claiming that contractors earn higher rates than their permanent counterparts, with 50% reporting equal rates.