New Europe-wide data from the World Employment Confederation reveals an average 5.3 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of hours worked by agency workers, a category that, in the UK, includes Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals.

Country by country, the findings were as follows:

United Kingdom 

Billings from the placement of temporary/contracting workers rose for the 43rd successive month. The most recent monthly rise was the fastest since April, with 37 per cent of the monitored consultancies reporting growth in temp/contracting billings versus 22 per cent reporting a reduction. Barring Scotland (which saw a decline), all of the UK regions tracked by the survey reported short-term staff billings rising in November, with the strongest rates of growth arising in London and the North.

Austria 

The number of hours worked by temp/contacting agency workers in Austria grew solidly throughout 2016 in comparison with last year, with year-on-year growth in October reaching 7.4 per cent.

Belgium 

Temp/contracting agency work grew here by 7.28 per cent year-on-year in October. This average figure reflects a rise of 8.24 per cent for blue-collar work and 5.95 per cent for white-collar work.

France 

Temporary/contract work turnover climbed year-on-year by 7.3 per cent in October, rising above the average six per cent achieved during the first ten months of 2016. Numbers have been climbing more vigorously since August.

Finland 

Year-on-year data for Finland will not be available until January next year, as the country has altered its data collection methodology. Even so, figures for October indicate an exceptionally strong growth in turnover of 17.3 per cent for temp/contract placements.

Germany 

Again, due to changes in its data collection methodology, statistics for Germany will not be available until January 2017. But, data collected by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW Köln) indicate a five per cent increase in the number of temp/contract placements between January and May 2016.

Netherlands 

Overall hours worked and turnover both increased by six per cent year-on-year.

Norway 

Although turnover grew by 4.1 per cent in Q3 here, the market remains fragile, and the hours worked fell by 0.9 per cent on a year-on-year basis. Many workers engaged in Norway’s oil industry lost their jobs in 2016 due to the fall in oil prices, and increases in unemployment in parts of Norway provide challenges for the agency work sector. Construction, however — the largest business area for the country’s staffing industry — is growing strongly.

Poland 

There was slight year-on-year contraction in turnover and hours worked here.

Switzerland 

The number of temp/contract hours worked grew by 1.9 per cent year-on-year in Switzerland, although agency work has contracted by 0.8 per cent since the start of 2016.

Engaging contractors to access skills and manage fluctuations in demand is, it would seem, a continent-wide phenomenon.

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