Independent professionals contracting as Umbrella Company employees look set to find demand for their talents surging in both the public and private sectors in the first half of 2015, with almost half (47%) of HR directors confirming that they plan to expand professional hiring this year, the latest Professional Hiring Index from recruitment firm Robert Half UK reveals.

The proportion is four percentage points higher than that recorded in the Index six months ago; however, the likelihood that professional contractors will be amongst the beneficiaries of this hiring spree lies in the fact that HR directors acknowledge that they face an uphill recruitment struggle in the face of worsening skills shortages. An overwhelming 91% reported that they were struggling to identify skilled professional-level candidates for their organisations in a challenging environment, while 35% cited the absence of niche technical experts as the main reason they were struggling to appoint new blood to their organisations.

30% cited competition from rival employers, with employer demand for key professionals outstripping availability, while 22% reported that too many candidates lacked the fundamental commercial and business skills needed for the roles they were seeking to fill.

The intention to hire, however, is robust amongst HR directors in both private and public sector organisations, with 42% of the latter confident about making new appointments despite calls for ongoing austerity measures.

Robert Half UK managing director Phil Sheridan said: “We are witnessing the typical post-recessionary power shift, with rapidly increasing demand for niche skills and commercial acumen affording candidates a position of strength from which to negotiate.”

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