'Up-skill battle' creating opportunities for self-employed

Thursday 31 March 2016

The ongoing skills shortage that continues to blight many of the UK's major industries is presenting an increasing number of opportunities for limited company contractors, freelancers and other self-employed workers with coveted skillsets.

EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, has published a new report entitled 'An Up-Skill Battle', which discusses the challenges businesses are facing in terms of finding candidates with the expertise they require as the talent shortage wages on.

The report found that the majority of manufacturing firms expect they will need to take on more staff to deal with extra demand over the coming three years, but three-quarters are concerned about where these additional workers will be sourced from.

EEF also discovered that two-thirds (67 per cent) of employers are experiencing difficulties when looking for new recruits with adequate technical skills and 61 per cent have struggled to source workers with the right experience.

This means that self-employed individuals who have worked on a wide range of contracts and have had the opportunity to hone and develop their skills are likely to see an increase in demand for their expertise over the next few years.

Overall, 35 per cent of manufacturing industry vacancies are currently deemed 'hard-to-fill', but this may be because contractors with the desired skills do not know about them, or are not looking in the right places to find work.

However, changing retirement ages are also causing problems for the sector, as people are stopping work earlier than before, leaving vacancies open for younger recruits to fill, but there has not been enough of a focus on certain coveted skills during their education, consequently fuelling the skills problem further.

Dave Benstead, human resources director at Diodes Zetex Semiconductors Ltd, explained to EEF the situation his company is in at present, which is similar to that of many other businesses throughout the UK.

"The most critical issue for us, which I can't see being resolved in the short term, is our need for skilled equipment engineers. These are the people who maintain our vital production equipment 24/7," he stated.

"There is a real shortage of these skills within our industry. We have an ageing workforce and we have taken on apprentices, but the rate at which the engineers are leaving us is too fast to keep up with."

In light of this, contractors and other self-employed individuals who possess skills in this area could find themselves benefiting from the vacancies on offer at these struggling firms, many of which are upping the pay rates they are willing to give to workers because they are so desperate for access to such expertise.

Equipment engineers who find themselves with an increased workload as a result of finding their services in higher demand may have less time to keep on top of their accounts and paperwork as a result, meaning they may require additional support from a specialist limited company service, such as Brookson's.

By Victoria McDonnell

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