Skills shortage could mean new opportunities for contractors

Service contractors working for umbrella companies in the UK could benefit from a skills shortage currently plaguing mid-sized companies in the UK as the sector struggles to fill key positions, it was recently suggested.

The proportion of business recruiting has gone up over the past few years, as the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found that 2009 figures indicated an increase of 3 percentage points in recruitment from 2009’s 12 per cent to 2011’s 15 per cent. The commission, which surveyed 74,000 companies, discovered that mid-size firms and only mid-size firms reported higher vacancies in key skilled positions, a fact that freelance work experts say could lead to to opportunities for temporary workers with the requisite skills to fill these main gaps.

The sectors reporting the largest number of shortages in skilled positions included local businesses, manufacturing, and social and personal services. The North West and the West Midlands have been particularly hardest hit, as these manufacturing hubs have seen vacancies grow to one out of every five roles as a result of a lack of candidates with the appropriate skills, the research findings reported.

Neil McLean, employment and skills commissioner, commented on the findings, reporting that the signs so far have been ‘worrying’ to say the least. Mr McLean remarked that fears are mounting that the UK may indeed be in the grips of what he called a ‘squeezed middle’ in regards to skills, with a core group of mid-sized companies experiencing stagnant growth due to an inability to find staff with the skills needed to increase their market share.

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