APSCo: Businesses increasing contractor use as matter of course

Tuesday 8 July 2014

The use of contractors as a matter of course is increasing, according to new figures from APSCo.

Placements and vacancy numbers have risen by ten per cent and nine per cent respectively across all professional sectors - a sign that organisations are not only reliant on temporary staff to address the skills gap but also to reap the benefits of a flexible workforce.

APSCo claims there is certainly no sign that businesses will be reducing their use of contract and contingent staff any time soon either.

The economy is continuing to strengthen and companies are only growing in confidence, which is being reflected in their hiring intentions.

Permanent vacancies are also on the rise, with placements in the professional recruitment sectors growing 33 per cent year-on-year - a new survey high.

This won't be entirely unexpected, as the UK economy has now grown past its 2008 peak and business confidence is at its highest level for 22 years.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation recently found that more than half (51 per cent) of employers are looking to increase their temporary headcounts. Thirty-four per cent said this was to meet rising demand - up from 25 per cent at the start of the year.

When it comes to recruitment the engineering and finance sectors are leading the charge, according to APSCo. In finance and accounting permanent placements and vacancies have grown by 39 per cent and 24 per cent respectively year-on-year. Meanwhile the engineering sector has seen placements increase by 41 per cent and vacancies rise by 30 per cent over a 12 month period.

Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, said: "A ‘triple peak’ in the latest key economic indicators is fantastic news and confirms that there is now real momentum behind the UK’s current growth."

However, increased optimism and demand for staff isn't translating into pay packets. Median salaries across all professional sectors have fallen by 1.7 per cent year-on-year. The exception is finance and accounting, and engineering, where two per cent and seven per cent pay increases have been seen respectively. According to APSCO, this is because these industries are using financial incentives to attract staff due to an imbalance between demand and supply of employees.

Andrew Fahey, commercial director at Brookson, said: "It's great news to see demand for contractors increasing and we're confident that as the economy gathers momentum temporary workers will have a key role to play. For employers, access to a flexible workforce is integral to success in the current climate, ensuring they can draw on the skills they need for projects. However, availability is getting weaker and weaker all the time, so if businesses want to ensure they can attract the contractor numbers they need, demand is going to have to start to be reflected in rates.

"Similarly, as more and more people choose to become self-employed, competition for positions will be fiercer, so contractors will need to ensure they stand out. Accreditation is one great way to demonstrate quality and access opportunities to upskill and network. Umbrella companies are also brilliant for contractors, as they take the hassle out of finding that next job and ensure that professionals are in compliance with tax law."


By Victoria McDonnell

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