New investments and hints of growth in the job market are further good news for contractors.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

New investments and the suggestion of growth in the UK job market are likely to lead to even more opportunities for contractors.

The energy sector looks set to hold onto its position at the forefront of demand. Energy specialists with an interest in renewables particularly stand to gain from a more integrated, Europe-wide strategy to promote green energy initiatives.

Last week, the EU’s energy commission accepted a non-binding resolution from MEPs which said that because of the wide economic disparities between member states, as well as differences in technological advances and market features, several strategies were at work in the Union to promote renewable energy.

However, the report points out the problems this can cause on a pan-European level, where trading electricity between member states can become highly inefficient. To give traders a more cost-effective framework, MEPs asked the Commission to consider a more integrated system throughout the Union, as well as a joint mechanism to promote renewables in every member state.

Removing trade barriers to allow member states better access to overseas markets is an important factor in raising capital for investment in renewables, according to the report, which also urges the Commission to continue promoting free trade outside the Union.

Now that the Commission has adopted the recommendations of the report, it is likely to lead to a range of expansions and developments in the European energy industry in the next few years. Combined with the well-documented skill shortage across the EU, it is likely that contractors will be able to take advantage of market conditions.

Nuclear energy is set for further growth in the UK as well. Around £15 million is to be spent on a National Nuclear Users Facility, with bases at Sellafield, the University of Manchester and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire.

Overseen by a Nuclear Industry Council of ministers and industry leaders, the facilities will be designed to allow Britain to take advantage of a new wave of investment in nuclear energy. Globally, investment in new nuclear reactors could reach £930 billion, with a further £250 billion spent on decommissioning old ones.

Last week the government’s commitment to nuclear energy was illustrated when EDF’s application to build a new nuclear power station at Hickley Point C in Somerset was approved.

EDF said the station could realistically meet seven per cent of the nation’s energy needs for more than 60 years.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has claimed that up to 40,000 jobs could be created in the nuclear sector if the right investment was brought into the UK, while a surge in demand for specialist knowledge and expertise could follow for highly skilled contract workers.

Outside of the energy sector, marketing professionals will be able to take advantage of rising budgets in many firms. Warc’s Global marketing Index indicated a particularly strong performance in Europe, which was largely responsible for an overall rise in the index rating for marketing budgets.

Around the UK, there are signs of increasing demand in the job market as a whole. Reed’s Job market Index shot up by 12 per cent in February month-on-month, ten per cent above its previous highest level in May 2012. Every region showed an increase too, suggesting that the whole country is at least showing signs of life.

By Victoria McDonnell

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