New figures included in the latest Monster Employment Index suggest that contractors working for umbrella companies could be amongst those who do well if the upward trend in job opportunities recorded continues. The Index shows that the number of jobs posted online in December were three percentage points higher than those posted during the previous month, and a healthy 11 per cent higher than figures recorded for the same time last year.

A degree of caution in extrapolating from these figures is necessary, of course, as the full impact of the government’s austere deficit reduction measures have yet to be felt within the wider economy. In particular, the rise in VAT earlier this month and job losses due to public sector spending cuts may make the next quarter a challenging one for PAYE umbrella contractors.

Even so, the figures are encouraging. Commenting on the increase, a spokesperson for Monster UK and Ireland, Isabelle Ratinaud, said that they show a “clear improvement” compared to the state of affairs in 2009, when the UK jobs market was considerably more depressed. She noted that whilst the upward trajectory has continued, the rate of increase had been slowing down over the last few months. She believes that many employers and recruiters will be playing it safe over the next quarter at least.

These views resemble those of KPMG Partner Bernard Brown and REC Chief Executive Kevin Green, who both anticipate that recruitment may slow over the next few months despite a recent surge in opportunities. Ms Ratinaud added that she, too, expects employers to hold off on embarking on a “new wave of recruitment” until they have a clearer sense of how 2011 starts to unfold.

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