According to new jobs market analysis data recently published by APSCo (the Association of Professional Staffing Companies), over the last year there has been a 24% increase in the number of contractor opportunities becoming available in the financial industry. That’s a huge increase, and one that is in stark comparison to permanent opportunities within the same sector in the same timeframe – which fell by 6%.

To put this into context, the increase in the number of contractor placements across all industries was 2% according to the report - still a good figure to see - but this just goes to highlight the significance of the financial services industry figure. As APSCo puts it in the report, the sector is ‘scrambling for contractors’.

Other industries are also showing significant increases – most notably IT, which grew by 18% over the last 12 months. Other sectors also showed a smaller increase, for example engineering, in which new contractor placements grew by 3% - still good to know if you work in that sector! This is most likely due to the high number of large infrastructure projects which are taking place throughout the UK at the moment.

The data from trade association APSCo is focused specifically on professional recruitment and clearly shows that, with the current uncertainly around Brexit, financial services organisations are wary of hiring permanent employees at the moment. In fact, across all sectors, there was a 1% decrease in permanent placements since this time last year, vs the 2% increase in contractor opportunities. So, if you have finance sector or IT expertise - or both of course - now could be a really good time to take that step you’ve been thinking about, and set yourself up as a limited company contractor.

Commenting on these figures and what they mean for contractors, APSCo Chief Executive Ann Swain said, “This data suggests that, as next month’s deadline approaches for the UK to start its formal withdrawal from the EU, organisations are slightly more hesitant to commit to bringing on board permanent staff. Thankfully, the strength of the UK staffing market lies in its flexibility, and it seems that organisations are bridging gaps with contractors to keep the wheels in motion.”

“The fact that financial services firms are scrambling for contractors – while cutting back on permanent hiring - is unsurprising given the uncertain future of the City post-Brexit. While few companies in this area have publicly commented on their future workforce plans, of the 222 firms studied by EY for its financial services Brexit tracker, 15% said they expect to move some staff and 10% are actively committed to the UK. The presumption is the remaining companies are turning to contingent workforces until they have the information they need to make logical and reasoned decisions on where their futures lie geographically.”