Figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG’s latest Report on Jobs show a sharp increase in the number of temp billings in March – the quickest rate since November 2017. Rates for temporary jobs – which includes contractors and umbrella workers – also increased for the first time in three months with the rate of inflation. The report attributes the rise in temp vacancies to the easing of the Coronavirus restrictions and the rollout of the vaccine.
The past twelve months have held many challenges for the sector, including many contractors slipping through the government support net and the introduction of the IR35 rules this month. However, the sector appears to be proving resilient with Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, commenting: “The strong temporary recruitment trend of the past few months has been maintained. Taken together with a long-awaited recovery in hiring in London, this is a sign that business confidence is starting to flow back, even at this early stage of unlocking.”
While it’s good news that the recruitment is starting to rebound, businesses are identifying sectors where demand and supply aren’t matching up. Industry experts say the skills gaps could be a positive thing for freelancers and contractors, resulting in an increased demand for their services. In this climate of uncertainty, on-demand workers offer businesses access to unrivalled flexibility, immediate solutions and specialist skills. Many contractors are also well placed to take advantage of the new hiring trend for remote and flexible working.
In particular, skills gaps are emerging across IT, Construction, Digital Marketing, Medical, Finance and Tourism & Leisure. Demand for IT contractors rocketed in March as businesses planned their reopening, with shortages in Cyber, Data, Development, Java and Software contracts. Meanwhile the ecommerce boom has seen a huge demand for digital creatives, while the reopening of the tourism and leisure sector in time for a busy summer will see continued growth in this area.
The hiring boom also means that post pandemic pay rates are holding up nicely. Skills shortages, along with a drop in the number of available temporary workers, saw rates increase for the first time in three months. Competition for contractors in many areas is likely to keep rates buoyant with more contracts being extended on favourable terms.
In general, marked rates of hiring growth were seen across all categories and regions. However, Blue Collar hiring showed the sharpest uplift for contingent staff during March, with the midlands recording the strongest increase in temporary billings of all four regions. Vacancy growth was also more pronounced in the private sector, where demand for short term positions hit its highest since September 2018.
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