Despite relentlessly gloomy recent forecasts about the UK economy’s prospects for growth, placement-hunting contractors working through umbrella companies have some reasons to be cheerful, thanks to a new survey from the Reed recruitment agency. Specialists in IT contracting in particular have more reason to smile than many.

Reed’s latest Jobs Index, which covers the month of October, records a surprising eight-point increase on September’s figure, climbing from 121 to 129. The number of available job opportunities has returned to levels last seen at the beginning of the year, when the economy appeared to be more firmly in recovery. Moreover, employer demand has risen by 23% compared to the same month last year.

While the index surged most vigorously for the voluntary sector (up 43 points), the IT skills market also proved to be in fine fettle, with the sector rising by 24 points. Temporary roles, too, have grown since September, up by 2.5% – a figure that should bring at least some cheer to the jobbing PAYE umbrella contractor.

Reed’s Group Managing Director, Tim Lovell, declared that the October Index recorded the healthiest month-on-month surge in job opportunities for two years. It seems clear that all regions have seen at least some degree of growth.

Mr Lovell went on to say “While recent reports have focused on a north/south divide in employment levels, the real picture is not that clear cut, with strong demand for candidates in both the north and south of the UK. Our job index shows that demand for candidates has increased across all regions, with particularly strong growth in London, and Yorkshire and Humberside.”

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