One important barometer for gauging how demand for Umbrella Company Employees and others in the professional contracting community is faring is the performance of firms specialising in professional recruitment, and new data from APSCo and professional services consultancy Deloitte suggests that they are going from strength to strength.
Nearly 70% of the 150+ professional recruitment specialists polled for the second annual APSCo Deloitte UK Recruitment Index reported rises in net fee income over the last year. The average annual expansion for all respondents was 29%.
59% of the respondents reported that sourcing the talent needed for further growth was their primary challenge for the coming 12 months, indicating that skills shortages remain an issue. Although this has the potential to undermine the ongoing recovery, it also augurs well for the contractors who tend to get signed up by businesses that simply cannot find the skilled permanent staff they want and need.
Almost half the respondents said they planned to expand into new offices, the majority of which will be in new markets, whether UK-based or overseas. This suggests that UK recruiters and the businesses they serve are confident about growth. The readiness of many recruiters to expand their international footprint almost certainly reflects the growing mobility of professional talent.
Interestingly, APSCo chief executive Ann Swain noted that flexible working had climbed significantly up the agenda for prospective professional recruitment consultants and that firms are being driven to accommodate this new demand in innovative ways.
In the longer run, this may develop into a growing switch from permanent role-seeking towards professional contracting – the ultimate model of flexibility.