Contractor demand set to rise over winter

Thursday 21 November 2013

Demand for contractors and other temporary workers is expected to improve over the next three months, according to the latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), as the Christmas season sparks a peak in demand.

The report published today (November 20th) showed that demand for workers employed through agencies has risen by nine per cent to a total of 44 per cent, indicating that the flexible workforce remains highly sought in a period which represents a peak for many industries. But significantly, it looks as though some of this demand will continue into the coming year, indicating that the UK labour market is likely to see a continuing trend of improvement into 2014. Indeed, 30 per cent of employers are planning to use more agency workers over the next four to 12 months.

As the Christmas season approaches, much of this increase can be explained by the demand for temporary workers in key sectors such as retail and distribution. Indeed, a quarter of employers said they planned to hire flexible workers over the festive period. For those looking for permanent work, these temporary contracts could also be promising - 27 per cent said they planned to keep on at least some of these workers on a permanent basis.

“This is fantastic news for people looking for work around the UK with managers on the lookout for temporary and permanent staff and in the build up to Christmas and beyond,” says REC chief executive Kevin Green.

But at the same time, some of this demand must be attributed to other disciplines in which contractors and freelancers are  valuable assets to help them deal with their own short-term spikes in demand.

For permanent staff, the picture is also positive with two out of three managers reporting that they intend to expand their permanent headcount in the next quarter - an eight per cent increase on the previous month. Although again, hiring intentions eased off throughout the following year, the figures were still healthy. Just over half the employers said they planned to take on more staff in the next four to 12 months, a slight two per cent increase from the month beforehand.

Overall, Mr Green says the figures suggest that consumer confidence is burgeoning and households are beginning to spend money once again, generating demand that businesses need to meet. For example, demand for workers in the logistics sector is now exceeding supply. Significantly, if this is a sign of health returning to the UK’s economy, Mr Green suggests that this will give the job market an important boost.

“The rise in consumer confidence is also likely to impact on job fluidity as increased opportunities in the jobs market will allow people to take the next step in their career,” he explained.

In the long run, more frequent job changes will create more vacancies for many businesses. In turn, it is likely that contractors will reap the benefits of the need for interim support while the right permanent replacements are found.

By Victoria McDonnell

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