The majority of employers polled in the REC’s JobsOutlook report say that they have changed their use of skilled Umbrella Company Employees and other temporary/contracting staff to provide “short-term access to key strategic skills.

64% cited this reason and for the first time in the survey’s history it came ahead of more traditional answers such as “covering leave” (61%),  “responding to growth” (49%) and “keeping running costs down” (30%).

The June poll of 600 employers across the UK also found that most were twice as confident as they were at the same time last year, with 47% planning to take on more contracting/agency staff over the coming three months and 42% planning to do so over the next 4-12 months. The equivalent figures for permanent staff are an impressive 87% and 78%.

The oft-reported growing skills shortage is believed by many of the respondents to be a potential serious threat to the UK’s jobs boom: 34% forecast a shortage of engineering contractors for technical and engineering projects, while 32% predict a shortage of engineering candidates for permanent positions.

Commenting on the findings, the REC’s chief executive, Kevin Green, said: “Employers are going to have to work harder to attract candidates as the labour market booms and competition for talent hots up. Skilled individuals are scarce in technology, engineering, construction and HGV driving, and companies are already increasing pay to encourage people to jump ship and join their workforce.”


Mr Green urged employers to go beyond pay packets and offer more flexible hours, improved benefits and more pleasant working environments.

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