While a multitude of recent UK labour market surveys have suggested that employment is rising surprisingly healthily, the underlying message in each is that a skills shortage is growing. An industry expert has suggested that more employers would be wise to turn to Umbrella Company Employees and other skilled freelancers in the UK’s professional contracting community to keep their business prospects on track.

Citing the recent REC/KPMG Report of Jobs, contractor accountant and PCG member Derek Kelly points to a growing shortage of skilled IT, engineering, construction and digital media candidates behind the headline growth figures.

Although education reform is widely agreed to be the long-term solution to the problem, with businesses working more closely with schools and colleges, Mr Kelly thinks a home-grown option is already available: professional freelancers and contractors.

Contractors, Mr Kelly argues, will help businesses to become agile and responsive in a competitive environment. He said: “Engaging a highly-skilled contractor, freelancer, consultant or interim on a temporary business-to-business basis enables an organisation to do just that. The growing desire for flexibility means contractors and freelancers are ideally placed to capitalise on the economic recovery and the subsequent increase in demand for skills and expertise.”

Furthermore, because many of the shortages are in specialist areas such as web development, software engineering and cloud computing,  contractors – many of whom decided years ago to build niche expertise for themselves – offer an ideal solution.

Mr Kelly concludes that with contractor numbers set to grow in 2014, an army of skilled professionals is on hand to help to solve the nation’s skills crisis.

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