The ongoing investment by the government in UK infrastructure has helped temporary employment levels in the engineering sector, even though the rest of the employment market still looks grim. Research by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) shows that despite the fact that permanent jobs and openings within the sector are still falling annually, the contracting market is doing better.

Temporary placements have increased by 2% since March 2012 and by 1% since February this year. There is, however, a difference between regions. Scottish placements have increased by 33% since March 2012, for example, but the South East has seen a decrease of 15%.

The chief executive of APSCo, Ann Swain, says: “Engineering remains one of the few bright spots within the professional recruitment market. This is being fuelled by initiatives like the HS2 rail link project, Crossrail and the expansion of Heathrow airport, which has created huge demand for highly specialist engineers and project managers. This vast investment in infrastructure projects has resulted in businesses turning to contract professionals, which offers not only a level of flexibility but also negates the need for permanent headcount cost.”

Ms Swain warns that the engineering sector faces high levels of retirement and urges the government to become pro-active in ensuring that future growth is not held back by a shortage of skilled labour.

Britain’s flatlining economy means that flexible workers are an essential part of the economy. This gives Britain an advantage over Europe, where the use of contract and temporary labour is difficult due to excessive regulation.

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