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Contractor rates growth reaches an 89-month high, as vacancies and billings increase

Contractor pay rates increased sharply during May 2014. The rate of pay growth was the fastest since December 2014. The number of contract vacancies and agency billings also grew, alongside continuing falls in contractor availability.

This is according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)/KPMG Report on Jobs for May 2014, which also highlights that skills shortages are worsening.

“The UK’s jobs boom continues with vacancies increasing as employers look for new workers to meet increasing demand and to replace staff that have been snapped up by competitors,” notes REC CEO Kevin Green. “However the big issue remains that employers are finding it hard to find the talent and skills they need.”

ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin believes that contractors remain ideally placed to meet clients’ short-term talent needs while the search for permanent solutions continues: “Contractors are not just hired to work on projects. As highly skilled and experienced flexible workers, they can provide cover and help with capacity management, giving employers the breathing space to find an employee with the right profile.”

All of the core contracting disciplines saw their growth accelerate during May. Engineering was knocked from being in first place in the demand league table during April into second place by the blue collar category.

Construction remained in fourth, whereas IT & computing dropped two places to seventh. Accounting and finance remained in eighth place, but executive and professional rose to sixth, suggesting an upturn in the interim market.

Regionally, the Midlands was the best performer, having the fastest growth in new contract assignments in the UK, followed by the South, London and the North.

However, the Midlands also recorded the sharpest fall in contractor availability, indicating that – if it has not already arrived – a supply and demand mismatch triggering skills shortages is imminent there.

The growth in demand for contractors in the public sector has steadily declined over the last three months, and remains well below that in the private sector. Whilst public sector contractor demand remains well into growth territory, it is clearly suffering from a slow-down.

Published: 09 June 2014

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