The number of employers intending to appoint additional temporary/contracting staff has held up well in January, maintaining December’s sizeable proportion of 43% over the next three months, the latest REC JobsOutlook survey reveals.

Whereas the majority of employers have previously cited gaining access to key skills as their primary reason for appointing Umbrella Company employees and other agency workers, their top reason in January (cited by 71%) was to respond to growth.

Over the medium term (four months to one year), the number of employers intending to hire temporary/contracting staff rose to 46%.

Prospects for permanent jobseekers also look promising, with 80% of employers planning to recruit permanent staff over the next three months. Although permanent hiring intentions remain strong, they have moderated since November’s high-point of 87% to 84% in December and 80% in January. 76% intend to hire more permanent staff over the next four months to one year.

Employer intentions, however, may face serious challenges in the real world as skills shortages continue to accumulate ‒ a trend that may see them seeking contractor talent to pursue growth projects as the availability of suitably-skilled permanent candidates continues to dwindle.

REC CEO Kevin Green said: “Businesses are increasingly thinking about expanding their numbers and many are telling us that they can’t take on more work without more staff. At the same time, the UK is suffering from skills shortages across the economy and it’s getting harder for hirers to attract and retain the talent they need. Employers should seek to improve recruitment practices and tap into talent pools that might have been overlooked.”

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