Last month’s Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD found that hiring intentions amongst UK employers had reached their highest point for six and a half years; however, new figures from Hays, the country’s largest recruiter, and one of its competitors, Robert Walters plc, suggest that employers will struggle to source the talent they need for several years to come.

Both recruiters identify a rising demand for skilled professionals as the economy moves into a broad-based recovery; however, they similarly identify a worsening shortage of qualified candidates and estimate that this could last between three and five years.

The shortage is at least in part due to the fact that many employers cut back on training for temporary staff while the financial crisis was still in full swing, with the result that, as vacancies begin to soar, there is now a concomitant dearth of suitably-trained candidates available to fill these vacancies.

Hays, for example, has placed more architects in new jobs over the last nine months than it placed over the preceding three years. Architects and skilled construction engineers have been in unprecedented demand recently, but the recovering housing market is encountering some significant skill shortages along the way.

The recruiter’s chief financial officer, Paul Venables, said: “There is a real skill shortage in design, in infrastructure, in architecture. There’s simply not enough people around.”

In the immediate term, the implication is far from discouraging for skilled Umbrella Company Employees and others in the UK’s professional contracting community: when businesses encounter a skills gap, a qualified and experienced contractor may be the best possible solution.

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