Rates of contractor pay went up sharply in May, at the fastest growth levels since December of 2013. At the same time, contract vacancies grew, as did agency billings, whilst contractor availability continued to fall. These figures were revealed in the (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) REC / KPMG Report of Jobs for May 2014, a report that also pointed to a worsening of the skills shortage across the UK. As the economy picks itself up, vacancies are increasing and employers are looking out for more skilled staff to fill those vacancies. But they are having problems. Either their competitors are getting the skilled staff first, or they are having trouble finding the skills in the first place. Kevin Green, the CEO of REC sees the big issue being simply that ‘employers are finding it hard to find the talent and skills they need.’
Industry insiders from across the contracting sector are still confident contractors will step up. Dave Chaplin, CEO of Contractor Calculator is convinced contractors are perfectly placed to fill the short term talent deficit whilst companies search for more skilled permanent staff:
“Contractors are not just hired to work on projects. As highly skilled and experienced flexible workers, they can provide cover and help with capacity management, giving employers the breathing space to find an employee with the right profile.”
Indeed all of the top contracting fields realised accelerated growth in May with blue collar contracting knocking engineering contractors into second place. Construction held steady in fourth place whilst IT fell two places down to seventh. In eighth place were finance and accounting (professional and executive having risen to sixth).
When it came to the performance of individual regions of the UK, the Midlands stood out as the best performer, with the quickest growth in the UK for new contracts and contract assignments, followed by London and the South, then the North.
That said, the Midlands also saw the steepest drops of contractor availability, showing clearly that a much discussed demand and supply mismatch (leading to skills shortages) is coming soon (if it is not already there.)
Finally, there has been a steady decline of growth in demand for public sector contractors throughout the previous three months, with the demand remaining a long way below that of the private sector. Although still growing, public sector contracting is definitely experiencing a slowing-down.