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The Mixed Picture of the Contractor Market

For contractors there’s been no shortage of reports, studies and announcements recently all aiming to shine a light on the health of the jobs market and what this might mean. The uncertainty introduced by the Brexit vote has only intensified speculation about what the real picture is and how the contractor market might develop.


Here at Contracting Scout, we’re committed to providing you with the most complete picture possible and practical information based on this.


In this spirit, here’s a look at some of this month’s main news on the state of the contractor market.


There was some good news for contractors from the recruitment agency Experis, which released its Tech Cities Job Watch research showing that the average IT contractor day rates have soared by more that nine per cent over the last year – now at £431..


The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) was also positive about the IT industry, finding that vacancies in technology companies reached their second-highest level for two years in August, with particularly strong demand for IT security skills, which increased by 26 per cent year-on-year.


The Office for National Statistics subsequently released figures showing the UK’s employment rate had remained at the joint highest rate since comparable records began in 1971, while the REC’s JobsOutlook survey found 81 per cent of businesses were planning to maintain or increase their use of temporary workers in the run up to Christmas.


On a less positive note, three major recruitment agencies – Hays, PageGroup and Robert Walters – suggested Brexit could be damaging employer confidence and affecting hiring.


Hays reported a 10 per cent year-on-year fall in net fees, with the biggest impact in London, where fees fell by 17 per cent. And as mentioned in a previous blog, PageGroup’s profits in the UK fell by almost five per cent on last year in the three months to 30 September.”


Robert Walters struck a more positive note, reporting that hiring levels in London investment banking have picked up, though adding that it is too early to say whether this will continue in the wake of the Brexit vote. The company reported London hiring had generally picked up in September, after a fall both ahead and after the referendum.


So, the overall picture is mixed, but the fundamentals of the UK economy appear relatively strong and seem to have absorbed the shock of the Brexit vote. Of course, some sectors and regions appear stronger than others and it’s not totally clear what’s around the corner. This could in fact potentially benefit contractors, with employers less willing to take a risk on permanent hires in uncertain times.


It seems safe to say that the responsiveness and flexibility that successful contractors demonstrate will be ever more important in the months ahead.


Here at Contracting Scout we’re on hand to help you thrive in uncertain times. Do get in touch if you’d like to learn how we can help you maximise the return you get from contracting and introduce you to expert providers who can help you manage your finances.