Newly-released figures from the Office for National Statistics bring seasonal cheer to assignment-hunting Umbrella Company Employees and others in search of new work opportunities: the unemployment rate fell to 7.8% during Q3 2012, while employment rose by almost half a million to 29.6 million.

The news was welcomed by the British Chambers of Commerce, whose chief economist, David Kern, hailed the positive figures as evidence “that the UK economy will grow over the next year, albeit at a modest pace.”

He drew attention to the rise in private sector employment, adding that the trend supports the BCC’s view that UK businesses “are able and willing to drive recovery at a time when the public sector will inevitably continue to shrink.”

The ONS figures coincide with the latest Manpower Employment Outlook survey, which shows that the number of UK employers intending to hire new staff in the first three months of 2013 has risen to +6% – twice that recorded for the first quarter of 2012.

ManpowerGroup’s UK managing director, Mark Cahill, said that there has been “a seismic shift in the nature of employment with many of the new roles created being temporary or part time positions.” UK hirers appear to be turning to Umbrella Companies as never before to manage staffing needs more flexibly.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “The economy as a whole is still fragile but it’s the flexibility within our labour market and people at all levels of the workforce being willing to take on temporary contracts, project work and part time roles that means we haven’t seen the levels of unemployment experienced on the continent.”

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