Skilled PAYE umbrella contractors will have their work cut out for them as British firms struggle to find the talent they need, according to another major survey identifying significant skill-holes in the economy.

The latest Manpower Talent Shortages Survey for 2012 revealed major skills shortages in the global economy. Its findings are now joined by those of the 2011 UK Commission for Employment and Skills survey, which reveal that a fifth of British firms seeking candidates for engineering, IT, interim management, media, accountancy and finance roles have been unable to find appropriately qualified and skilled people.

This could well carry a significant ‘ker-ching’ factor for specialists in IT contracting, but the evidence suggests that, although they may come to the rescue for numerous companies, there still are not enough of them. The skills shortages are potentially alarming, with 44% of the businesses polled admitting that the had lost out to competitors because of the problem, 45% finding themselves having to postpone the launch of new services or products, and 47% admitting that they can barely hit basic customer service objectives.

There are rich pickings to be had for canny contractors working through umbrella companies find a firm with a serious skills shortage, plug it, and a steady flow of well-paid contractual assignments could be on their way for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the Spring 2012 Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD forecasts that 27% of all new appointments made this year will go to contractors, a figure that rises to 35% in the public sector, due largely to the freeze on permanent appointments.

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