According to April 2014's Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)/KPMG Report on Jobs, contractor demand continued to increase during April 2014 across all the main sectors and the availability of candidates also fell at the sharpest rate since 2000, with the report highlighting worsening skills shortages as a result.
According to recruiters, lack of contractor availability was most notable in London and the south. Engineers of all disciplines, business intelligence, developers, business development and legal were some of the skills identified by recruiters as being in short supply. Engineering was first in the contractor demand league table, with construction in fourth place, IT & computing and accounting/financial and executive/professional in eighth and ninth places respectively.
Demand for engineering skills in the UK currently far exceeds supply, which should be good news for engineering contractors. A report recently highlighted that there is demand for some 87,000 engineering graduates each year, with only 46,000 being produced by the UK.
The latest Oil & Gas UK Demographics Report shows that the number of oil and gas contractors and employees working offshore in the North Sea rose by 8.6% during 2013, following record levels of investment.
Financial and IT contractors can expect a buoyant pipeline of contracts in the City of London, with hiring increasing by 67% over the last 12 months. This, coupled with falling candidate availability possibly indicates forthcoming skills shortages, as highlighted by Morgan McKinley’s London Employment Monitor for April. The recruiter said that the roles most in demand were risk and compliance specialists.
Overall Growth in Self-Employed Workers
The total number of self-employed contractors and freelancers in the UK rose by 283,000 (4.2%) to reach a record 4.55m in the first three months of 2014. This represents the fastest increase in self-employment since records began and was much higher than the 0.4% growth in employment over the same period.
Contractors and other flexible workers, including freelancers, temps, interims and consultants, now comprise 10% of the workforce of the organisations who use their services, on average, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s Labour Market Outlook for Spring 2014, which also shows that around 69% of all hiring organisations use workers on temporary contracts.