The latest Markit/REC Report on Jobs has been published, and shows that the demand for new staff amongst UK companies has reached the highest levels for 18 months. This presents a great opportunity for contractors and other workers alike, with permanent opportunities also showing their highest rate for a year. The Report on Jobs is recognised as ‘the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market’, as is made up from original survey data which has been supplied by UK recruitment consultancies.  

One key finding for contractors was that the availability of permanent candidates has continued to fall, and is now declining at an even faster rate than previously. There are not enough permanent staff to fill all of the roles being created – and this is an ideal opportunity for contractors with specialist skills to step into the breach. At the same time, growth in rates of pay for non-permanent staff increased slightly over the previous month, and was the second fastest rate of growth for the last nine months.

Looking at different areas of the UK, there was an increase in new opportunities in all four countries – good news for Scotland especially, as this was the first growth seen in the last six months. Looking at non-permanent staff in particular, rates of pay showed the fastest increase in the North East of England, and opportunities for these types of workers rose sharply within the private sector. The public sector also showed an increase in opportunities for all types of workers, but at a lower rate.

In terms of job types, when it comes to non-permanent and contract staff, engineering skills were the most highly sought after, followed by blue collar and nursing/medical staff. Commenting on all of the findings, Chief Executive of the REC Kevin Green said, “Although permanent placements have hit a 12 month high, businesses across the UK are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit for permanent roles. The big question still remains about how employers will fill their vacancies. 

We’re already seeing acute staff shortages in a variety of sectors, from healthcare to engineering. On the flip-side, this is a good time for individuals prepared to move jobs, with bumper pay offers on the table as hirers compete to secure the talent available. In the context of rising inflation and stagnating pay growth, changing employers is becoming a more attractive option for those looking for more money.”

 Given the level of concern around lack of suitable skills within the permanent workforce, it’s clear that this is a great time for limited company contractors to make the most of the opportunity to fill those roles - and to demonstrate to UK businesses the benefits of working with contractors.