Demand for skilled Umbrella Company Employees and other freelancers continued to grow vigorously in January, the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs reveals.

Although both permanent and temporary/contracting staff billings increased at a marginally slower rate than the 15-year high registered in December, the pace of growth remained encouragingly strong. Pay rates are also beginning to pick up, keeping pace with the six-year peak seen in the previous month.

The growth in permanent and temporary billings was seen across all four of the UK regions monitored by the report, with temporary/contracting roles being most in demand in the North and, in second place, the Midlands. Demand for new staff grew in both the private and public sectors during January, although growth was strongest in the former.

REC spokesman Tom Hadley said that while the squeeze on people’s living standards was still a dominant news story, the latest figures betoken hope for workers. Skills shortages in an expanding number of sectors are driving up pay rates across the country, he said.

Mr Hadley added: “This again underlines just how critical the issue of skills shortages is becoming, as businesses will not be able to contribute to economic growth if they cannot find the skilled workers they need. Part of the solution is to develop a careers guidance network that is fit for purpose and raises awareness of growth sectors and current and future skills needs.”

Bernard Brown, KPMG partner and head of business services, noted that more employees were opting for temporary/contracting roles, suggesting they were adopting a ‘try before you buy’ mentality rather than marching headlong into permanent openings.

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