Demand for Umbrella Company Employees north of the border has been remarkably robust, according to the latest Report on Jobs from the Bank of Scotland.

During November, the report reveals, permanent billings rose to their strongest level since April and there were “strong” increases in contactor/temporary staff appointments; however, there are some indications that demand for certain key contractor skills is outstripping supply, with recruiters reporting a dip in the number of engineering contractors seeking new assignments despite a rise in billings.

Umbrella Companies supplying the IT skills market also saw a marked increase in demand for their employees, but IT lost its place at the top of the demand leader board: the rate of increase in available IT contractor billings eased slightly from October’s level.

For a third group of contractors, though, the picture was altogether more grim: whereas financial services contractors enjoyed an increase in demand across the UK as a whole last month, in Scotland they sank to bottom place, hitting the third consecutive month of contraction.

In Dundee, demand for contractors was especially strong; however, candidate availability declined markedly. Contractor pay rates rose most strongly in Aberdeen.

Commenting on the data, the Bank of Scotland’s chief economic advisor, Donald MacRae, said: “Conditions in the Scottish labour market improved in November. Both the number of people appointed to jobs and the number of job vacancies rose.”

Despite the slowdown, he added, “employers continue to hire, suggesting a rising trend in business confidence.”

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