Contractor demand spikes sharply year-on-year, survey says

Year-on-year demand for freelancers and umbrella company contractors has risen by a significant margin, according to the results of a new ASPCo survey.

2013 was a banner year for the freelancing community, but ASPCo found that from all the data collected this year and their projections for the next few months, 2014 will be bang on as well. To be specific, there demand for contractors and other interim workers will hold strong, with an increase of eight per cent versus last year.

The good news is that the British economy has responded quite well over 2014, and industry experts like ASPCo say that contract workers can claim much of that victory for themselves. GDP growth for the year was just revised by the Treasury to hit 3.1 per cent, whereas at the beginning of the year there was a much more conservative estimate of only 1.8 per cent growth. In other words, things are going along in a quite smashing manner and the contributions of freelance staff members, who have been burning the candle at both ends since the economic downturn, can claim a large slice of the pie when it comes to credit for the UK’s fantastic growth.

However, while that’s quite a silver lining there’s a dark cloud to go along with it. Vacancies might be up by a healthy percentage – which of course indicates economic growth – the problem could be that there’s not enough candidate availability to keep up. Freelancers are already feeling the squeeze when it comes to keeping up with demand for their services, especially since there’s still more than a bit of a problem finding good permanent employees that are qualified for all these new positions that have been opening up. Of course there are new initiatives aimed at expanding graduate and apprenticeship positions for those Brits entering the workforce for the first time, but with older Brits retiring and taking their specialised knowledge with them there’s a very palpable skills gap that could end up just getting wider and wider – and contract workers can only plug as many holes as they have fingers.

Will the economic recovery founder and collapse under its own weight if we can’t find enough good, well-qualified workers to fill these roles? I can’t rightly say – yes, there’s a bit of a danger of that happening but most industry experts think it might just cut back on some of our rampant growth. I’m not saying the sky is falling by any means – though I would like to see that skills gap to close!

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