Anxious contractors working through umbrella companies may be heartened to hear that they should not have to worry too seriously about employment prospects for the coming year, following news that there is unlikely to be a dramatic rise in unemployment over the next twelve months, according to Work Wise UK.

Commenting on figures just released by the Office for National Statistics, Work Wise UK’s Chief Executive, Phil Flaxton, believes they bode well for 2011. For those aged 16 to 24, employment remained at 70.8% over the three-month period from September 2010 and total employment actually increased during the same period. This seems to have occurred largely as a result of more people opting for self-employment – a trend that may indicate the umbrella contracting market is starting to pick up.

Mr Flaxton reported that several business leaders are confident that the private sector will absorb some of the job losses which are expected in the public sector; he also believes that the UK’s still-prevalent skills shortage will help ensure that unemployment levels stabilise and may even fall. Skilled professionals on the contractor payroll are likely to draw some comfort from this view.

Even so, he cautioned against wild optimism; many believe that the record low employment seen over the last ten years was an effect of the previous government’s massive creation of new jobs in the public sector, and that’s clearly about to change. Flaxton also believes that growth in the private sector sufficient to absorb all the public sector’s job losses will take several years to achieve, a view shared by the CEBR and the Institute of Directors.

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