UK contractor hiring sentiment improved in March

Friday 25 April 2014

Almost half of businesses are planning to increase the use of contractors over the next year, according to recent statistics from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The report showed a rise in confidence of employers regarding both temporary and permanent placements. 

When asked about the future use of agency workers, half of employers said they are planning to up their use of temporary workers over the next three months - slightly higher than February’s figure. 

Meanwhile, 48 per cent reported they are planning to take on more temporary workers over the next 4-12 months. This is the same amount as last month.

When it comes to why employers are increasingly using temporary staff, their motivations appear to have shifted somewhat over the past few years. 

In this month’s survey, 48 per cent said temporary staff helped them to “respond to growth”, compared to just 25 per cent who said the same thing in March 2012.

What’s more, 78 per cent of employers emphasised ‘short-term access to key strategic skills’ as one of the top benefits of using contractors. The March 2012 report saw a lower figure of 60 per cent underline this as a key reason for employing a flexible workforce. 

Kevin Green, chief executive at the REC, commented: “Employer confidence is returning and hirers are keen to make offers of permanent work to more and more people. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy and surging confidence among small employers can only be good news for jobseekers and the recovery.”

Mr Green added that being able to access “high quality flexible staff” has been instrumental in the UK’s recovery, providing vital resources for British businesses during the downturn. 

“As scarcity of skills continues to be an issue in key sectors like IT, engineering and logistics, contractors, interim managers and agency workers are becoming more important than ever to help businesses quickly access the skills they need to stay competitive,” he added. 

The figures relating to permanent staff were also largely positive, as the jobs market continues to grow. Indeed, 76 per cent of employers revealed they were planning to hire more permanent staff within the next quarter, according to the latest JobsOutlook survey. 

Meanwhile, eight out of ten employers said they intend to increase their headcount in the next 4-12 months. This marks a 22 percentage point increase from just three months ago. 

Micro-businesses (firms with between one and ten employees) saw significant improved hiring intentions in the past three months, bolstering the economy as a whole. 

Meanwhile, new research from the Professional Representation Network found that the top contractors in the UK are earning three times as much as the country’s average wage. 

It was found that the top 100,000 UK contractors earned around £80,000 each year. This is significantly higher than the national average wage, which stands at £27,000.

Contractors in central London were found to earn the highest average wage. In this area, almost 20,000 contractors earned approximately £120,000 per annum. 


By Victoria McDonnell

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