According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the nation’s high employment rate is a mixed bag of positive and negative.
The newest JobsOutlook survey, which the REC puts forth every month like clockwork, found that employment in the UK stands at an unprecedented 74.1 per cent high. This is both bad and good, the industry body said, as the severe skills shortage gripping the country is making it highly difficult for businesses in the UK to expand in order to keep up with demand for their own goods and services. While freelancers and umbrella company contractors are working overtime to keep these firms running along on all cylinders, there’s only so many contract workers to go around; the result is that eventually economic growth is going to grind to a halt.
About 19 out of every 20 companies are operating at 100 per cent capacity, according to the REC’s figures. It’s going to be exceedingly hard to find additional permanent workers at this rate – and it’s only going to get even harder as time progresses. This is of course why temporary workers like freelancers and contractors are becoming increasingly popular; in fact, the REC said that 58 per cent of firms surveyed have had to make use of contract workers to be able to respond to the demands of growth. Meanwhile, when it came to these companies needing to fill what the REC called “key strategic skills,” 90 per cent of these firms ended up needing to use temporary workers to do so.
Big businesses and SMEs alike are feeling the pressure, the research found, and in the end the options to fill key roles are becoming a bit thin on the ground. Temporary workers are absolutely one solution, but the supply of contractors with the right skills and experience is absolutely finite. It’s a stopgap measure to be sure, and one that will eventually be exhausted. The truth is that there simply needs to be an influx of workers into the UK with the right combination of skills and expertise , and it needs to happen before the British contracting workforce ends up getting exhausted by growing demand. Whether this means attracting quality talent from overseas or a renewed focus on education here at home is anyone’s guess at this point.
We’ll all just have to sit tight and see. For now, if you’re a contractor, do your best to rack up those billable hours now!