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Contractors in IT and engineering are sought after, as key skills get harder to find

Contractors with IT & computing and engineering expertise can look forward to increasing demand for their services as the skills shortage worsens and employers look to them to close the gap.

The latest JobsOutlook survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) shows that businesses are increasingly relying on contractors to meet demand and enable business growth.

The findings showcase contracting as an increasingly attractive proposition for permanent employees with IT & computing and engineering skills. If this skill shortage continues, it could affect other business sectors and increase contractor demand further.

Nearly all businesses surveyed (98%) report that they have either ‘none’ or only ‘a little’ capacity to take on more work without more staff, which is making them turn to contractors to meet demand at an increasing rate.

More than eight in ten employers (84%) say they hire contractors to access ‘key strategic skills’, which is up from the 55% who cited this reason in April 2013.

“It is encouraging to learn that 62% of employers acknowledge contractors earn more than if they were employed on a permanent basis,” says ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin. “Contractors in the IT arena need to be on standby as this core contracting area is of most concern for UK businesses. Those already contracted in this sector are likely to be retained, so they should be seeking advantageous renewal deals.”

Kevin Green, REC chief executive, explains the changing climate behind this emerging trend: “Businesses are clearly finding it difficult to attract people to certain roles. The number of vacancies is currently at record levels but candidate availability is falling.

“The second trend that is starting to emerge is employers hiring more people on short-term assignments because they can’t find permanent staff with the skills and that they want to flex their resource to meet volatile demand.”

The monthly survey of UK employers also found that 97% intend to increase or maintain their current number of contractors in the next three months, with 98% planning to over the next four to 12 months.

Almost one in four (23%) plan to boost their use of contractors in the short term. Similarly, a high proportion of employers are intent on holding onto their contractors in the medium term.

For now, at least, the contractor market in the technology skills area is looking decidedly healthy, with larger employers showing greater demand for agency workers in the next quarter.

Published: 20 May 2015

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