Temp workers needed to plug skills gap

Friday 22 May 2015

Limited company contractors, umbrella company contractors and sole traders are seeing employers turn to them in an effort to deal with skills shortages.

According to the latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), employers are looking to agency workers as a means to enable business growth when they are unable to find permanent workers with key skills.

The survey revealed that 98 per cent of businesses reported that they have little or no capacity to accept more work without hiring more staff, therefore they are relying on agency workers to help them keep up with demand.

Eighty-four per cent said that they take on agency staff as a way to access 'key strategic skills'. This is up from the 55 per cent recorded during April 2013 who gave this reason.

Commenting on the results of the latest JobsOutlook survey, chief executive of the REC Kevin Green said: “Businesses are clearly finding it difficult to attract people to certain roles. The number of vacancies is currently at record levels but candidate availability is falling. Our data indicates that employers may be shifting focus away from hiring staff, and towards improving the productivity of the workforce they already have.”

He also noted that employers are hiring more staff on short term contracts because they are unable to find the permanent staff with the right skills to meet demand. Businesses also need contractors as a means of having a more flexible workforce so that they can scale work up or down when demand is volatile.

Over the next three months, 97 per cent of respondents said that they intend to either increase or maintain their current numbers of agency workers. This figure rises to 98 per cent when considering the next four to 12 months.

In terms of hiring more permanent staff, 62 per cent of respondents say they plan to do this over the next three months and 70 per cent say they intend to do this over the next four to 12 months.

Where pay is concerned, 62 per cent of respondents say that agency workers earn more than they would do if they were employed on a permanent basis.

Over the past year, 22 per cent of employers surveyed have increased their workforce and 74 per cent have kept their staff numbers the same. Only five per cent reduced their workforce as a means of cutting labour costs, whether through making people redundant or by freezing recruitment.

By Victoria McDonnell

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