Freelancers on the contractor payroll of umbrella companies or working through their own Limited Companies may be interested in a new study by professional services giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). According to the research, twice as many firms are planning to expand their workforce in 2011 compared to 2009.

In total, this represents around 28 per cent of UK firms, although the study also found that 15 per cent of those surveyed were planning “significant increases.” Recruitment is expected to be especially vigorous in manufacturing, technology and service industries.

PwC’s head of PR, Michael Rendell, hailed the accountancy firm’s findings as “encouraging news for the job market.” The headcount increases suggest that, in the wake of the austerities announced in the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, many refugees from the public sector may be accommodated in the private sector in the event of redundancy.

The UK recruitment agency Jobsite also believes that the country’s jobs market may be improving. It noted a rise in the number of jobs vacancies advertised across a broad range of industries with a variety of different roles becoming available.

The latest news isn’t all positive, however. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has also just released figures which show that, during the November quarter, the UK’s huge service sector remained flat, with volume standing still at +3 per cent and value remaining stubbornly at -3 per cent. Whilst professional and business services remained steady, consumer services took a surprise tumble over the last few months. Reductions in consumer discretionary spending may be partly to blame, although the CBI also cited rising costs, falling prices and flat volumes.

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