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Demand for contract professionals spikes as employers turn to flexible workers amidst skills shortages

by uma

The first quarter of 2022 ended with significant increases in white collar recruitment, with contract professionals in particularly high demand as skills shortages remain rife. That’s according to the latest Recruitment Trends Snapshot report from The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

The data, provided by the global leader in software for the staffing industry, Bullhorn, revealed that while permanent vacancies were up 12% on February’s data and 17% year-on-year, demand for contract professionals reported the biggest uptick, increasing 22% month-on-month and 24% year-on-year. This is indicative of businesses turning to the flexible segment of the workforce as a means of tackling the on-going talent shortage that many employers are facing, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing that unemployment levels dropped in Q1 2022 as vacancy numbers rose.

Talent pools drying up

According to APSCo, already dwindling talent pools are being further diminished as the number of new hires increases. Across permanent roles, placements were up 16% month-on-month in March, but the annual comparisons showed the greatest spike, up 45% when compared to the same month in 2021. Contract placements saw similar upticks, increasing 27% month-on-month and 11% year-on-year.

The annual comparisons are even more stark given that 8th March last year signalled a pivotal moment for the UK, with Covid restrictions easing following the success of the vaccination programme. At this time in 2021, APSCo’s data showed that vacancy and placement numbers soared as confidence returned to the recruitment market – marking the beginning of a hiring spree across the UK last year. To see such an increase on these figures a year later suggests the pressure on the UK’s recruitment sector isn’t slowing.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo comments:

“The latest data shows that the hiring crisis across the UK is continuing, with vacancy numbers spiking once again. While this appears positive on paper, the continued shortage of skills combined with an increase in the cost of living is making the employment market more competitive. Just last month, Microsoft’s second annual Worker Trend Index revealed that 43% of global staff are considering a job change this year while the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also reported yet another increase in vacancies in March. If this level of uncertainty, change and demand continues, the UK’s labour market will struggle to meet the needs of the economy.”

Joe McGuire, Sales & Strategy Director, Analytics at Bullhorn comments:

“Demand remains extremely high across the board and agencies are having to be more strategic about how they work with candidates. It’s never been more important to ensure that candidates are interviewing with multiple clients, not just one. Historically we have seen demand dip slightly as we move into the new financial year but it will be interesting to see if this rings true in 2022.”

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