The latest Talent Shortage Survey from Manpower contains good news and bad news for the jobbing PAYE umbrella contractor. Those specialising in IT contracting and engineering find themselves very much in demand, with the prospect of international ‘hiring wars’ breaking out, as companies across the world scramble to attract the talent they need.

Demand for electrical and civil engineers especially has been soaring to such an extent that they are now the second most sought-after specialism on the planet. Experts in the IT skills market are also being keenly hunted, and are the fifth most sought-after group.

However, significant skills shortages in the global economy have the potential to impede or scupper desperately needed growth. The report states: “Despite the continuing caution exercised by many companies amid on-going economic uncertainty, a substantial portion of employers in the US and worldwide identify a lack of available skilled talent as a continuing drag on business performance.”

The survey reveals that this is the seventh successive year of a global skills shortfall, with one third of all companies finding it extraordinarily difficult to find the talent they need. The report warns that this predicament appears to be generating a potentially dangerous complacency, as firms suspend vital projects while waiting for the right candidates to come along.

Paradoxically, improvements in the global economy could exacerbate the problem, with demand for talent outstripping supply to an even greater extent and worsening the complacency. Smarter companies, the report notes, are already embarking on intensive workforce development strategies to train up their personnel with the skills of the future – a policy which may sort out which firms will thrive and which will merely survive.

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