In General

The UK’s flexible workers are set in benefit from chronic skills shortages, with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) latest Jobs Outlook survey stating that employers are now attempting to source agency workers to drive business growth.

All but 2% of businesses said they are unable to take on new projects without hiring more staff, with 84% revealing that they are now hiring talented contractors, freelances and other temporary staff with key strategic skills to combat the struggle – up from 55% in April 2013.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “Businesses are clearly finding it difficult to attract people to certain roles. The number of vacancies is currently at record levels but candidate availability is falling.

Our data indicates that employers may be shifting focus away from hiring staff and towards improving the productivity of the workforce they already have.”

Mr Green added that another trend is now beginning to emerge: employers are turning to the flexible workforce for short-term assignments to cope with “volatile demand”, as they are unable to find appropriate permanent employees.

The JobsOutlook report also found that 98% of employers will maintain or increase the number of agency workers on their books during the next year, with 97% looking to bolster their temporary workforce during the summer.

In contrast, only 62% want to hire permanent employees in the short term, with 70% aiming to increase their permanent headcount over the next four to 12 months. During the last year 22% of employers have added to their workforce numbers, while three-quarters have not made any changes at all.

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