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Contractors underpin new ‘lean’ workforce strategies adopted by contracting clients

Contractors make possible new ‘lean’ workforce strategies that have emerged as a result of the recession, delivering expanded capacity and access to specialist and strategic skills to contracting clients.

This is according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) Recruitment Industry Trends Survey 2013/14, which also highlights a worsening skills situation. Demand for core contracting skills has reached the point when now may be an ideal time for permanent employees to make the switch into contracting.

“Employers are waking up to the benefits of keeping their core workforces lean and then flexing when they have peaks in demand or they require new specialist skills,” says the REC, which also highlights that: “On any given day during the past year, 1.15 million people were working on a temporary or contract assignment they secured via a recruitment agency.”

And the growth in contractor use over the last 12 months to record a record high is not just client driven, as the report highlights: “It’s also now apparent that more people are choosing to work as agency workers, contractors or freelancers because it fits around their other commitments and interests in life.”

“This report reinforces the fact that the growth in contractor use is structural,” notes ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin. “Contracting clients no longer view contractors as temp cover for absence. Contractors have become an integral part of the client’s delivery model.

“Similarly, more people than ever before with the right skills have recognised that the contractor lifestyle offers choices and benefits that employment simply cannot match.”

The core contracting disciplines dominate contract and temp work in the UK, accounting for 35.9% of all contract and temp assignments. When this is broken down by each core contracting discipline, the REC shows the percentage of average daily contract placements as follows:

  • Technical and engineering: 15.3%
  • IT & computing: 9.9%
  • Construction: 4.2%
  • Accounting/financial: 3.6%
  • Professional/managerial: 2.9%

Over the last 12 months, the number of IT contractors in contract each day has grown by 13,000, and in the engineering/technical sector the growth has been more than double with 30,000 more contractors in contract each day compared to the same period last year.

Chaplin concludes: “With demand for core contracting skills accelerating and skills shortages worsening, now is an ideal time for permanent employees who are considering moving into contractor to make their move.”

Published: 28 October 2014

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