While it’s difficult at present for anyone to feel especially upbeat about the general economic outlook, new figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) suggest that growing demand for PAYE umbrella contractors has helped the UK’s recruitment industry to grow by a very healthy 25% over the last twelve months.

Although recruitment to permanent posts generated a turnover of £2.5 billion over the last year (an impressive 37% increase on last year’s total of 1.8 billion), turnover from temporary staffing has positively galloped ahead to £22 billion, with many of these appointments awarded to contractors working through umbrella companies. This compares to last year’s figure of £17.4 billion and represents a welcome return to levels last seen in 2006/2007.

The volume of temporary placements rose from last year’s 879,000 to this year’s level of more than a million (1,049,333) – an increase of 19.3%.

Commenting on these findings from the REC Annual Industry Trends Survey, the organisation’s Chief Executive, Kevin Green, conceded that the market remains a tough one for recruiters and contractors alike, but added that it was “crucial for UK businesses to recognise the importance of sustainability of supply and quality of provision.”

The REC’s Medium Term Forecast, he went on, points to “steady but unspectacular growth over the next four years.” However, he also went out of his way to acknowledge the pivotal role of the UK’s contractor workforce in generating such impressive results for the recruitment industry, adding “The upsurge of temporary assignments to more than a million again underlines the value of flexible working patterns for both employers and jobseekers.”

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