A potential skills shortage is looming in the finance sector as thousands of City professionals seek work elsewhere in fear of forthcoming job cuts, a new study suggests.

While it would be distasteful to take any comfort in the misfortunes of others, the research by recruitment firm Astbury Marsden could mean that PAYE umbrella contractors with experience in the finance sector could find increased demand for their services in the City over next few years. Employers in the City, the research shows, are struggling to retain their best staff as a skills exodus gathers momentum.

There has been a 32% surge in staff desertions in a single month, with numbers rising from 10,750 in June to 14,280 in July. Permanent post-holders in financial services are acutely aware of an impending jobs cull, which is expected to be very bloody – 50,000 jobs are expected to be shed over the next five years. Banks have conventionally trimmed head counts twice a year but the latest cuts have come a full quarter early, suggesting that financial institutions are fundamentally altering the way they do business.

Mark Cameron, Astbury Marsden’s Chief Operating Officer, said that the proposed jobs massacre was a “knee-jerk” reaction to bad news, which has forced staff to get back into the jobs market “in case it is their department that is forced to make redundancies.”

The news opens up the prospect that, as employment patterns change, banks and other financial institutions will turn to umbrella companies in search of skilled contractors to fulfil essential roles as a means of keeping costs and permanent head counts to a minimum.

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