Skilled independent professionals contracting as Umbrella Company Employees may be amongst the principal beneficiaries of the fall in unemployment recorded in the latest Office for National Statistics figures, as a “war for talent” beckons amongst the UK’s employers.

Tom Lovell, managing director of leading recruitment firm Reed, suggested that the buoyant final quarter of 2013 was shifting the labour market “in favour of the candidate more quickly than many expected”.

He added: “Our latest research shows there is an imbalance in terms of the confidence of individuals in their jobs and the increasing number of jobs available, and what employers are doing in terms of their staff retention. Salaries are still not increasing and we’ve seen benefits reduce year-on-year in terms of training, bonuses and entertainment. That suggests the organisations that can respond to that imbalance quickly and effectively will win in what is becoming more of a war for talent.”

An implication, however, is that if individuals leave their roles for pastures new, employers may need to draft in contractors to fill business-critical gaps in talent and may need to offer competitive pay rates to attract the most suitable candidates.

The ONS figures suggest that salaries and pay rates may also be recovering: regular pay and total pay both grew by 0.9% in 2013 compared to the same period (September to November) the previous year.

The recovery picture may be patchier than the overall statistics from the ONS suggest. According to Andrew Hunter, co-founder of the job website Adzuna, regions such as the North East are still struggling to create new jobs.

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