Employers turn to flexible workforce as skills shortage worsens



Tania Bowers – APSCo

May 24, 2022





Following reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that the level of unemployment had fallen below the number of vacancies for the first time, statistics from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) show that employers rely on contractors to meet their resource needs.

The data, provided by global recruitment industry software leader Bullhorn, revealed that while vacancies fell month-on-month in April due to the holiday season, permanent positions and Contract workers having fallen by -19% and -25% respectively between April and March, demand from contractors remains strong in a context of growing skills shortages.

Year-on-year comparisons show a 13% increase in vacancies between April 2021 and April 2022, after a 24% year-on-year peak in March. According to daily tracking data presented in the Recruitment Trends Snapshot report, this demand for contract professionals has increased in the last half of the month, up 2% from the start. This is indicative of the growing use of temporary labor in the absence of permanent resources.

The statistics further revealed that recruitment firm contract revenue increased by 4% in the last weeks of the month compared to the beginning of April, despite a drop in the number of placements of -1%, suggesting that employers need to invest more to attract these highly skilled flexible workers. workers.

According to Tania Bowers, Director of Global Public Policy at APSCo, this reliance on flexible workforce could be under threat due to the continued lack of clarity around the jobs bill:

“The UK jobs market is not fit for purpose in the current economic landscape and APSCo has warned that the long-awaited Jobs Bill must be brought forward quickly if the country is to recover from the impact of the pandemic and Brexit. It is clear that the future of the labor market must be flexible, dynamic and fair, but current legislation is not designed to support this. The self-employed have a role crucial to play in the skills shortage environment we are experiencing and it is important to ensure that these people are adequately supported and able to operate flexibly without being penalized We are already seeing the Off Payroll case law impact in this segment of the market and the UK risks reducing its own flexible workforce if no action is taken Self-employed status must be defined in legislation which differentiates between professionals in highly skilled dependents dependent contractors, workers, other variants of self-employment, and less skilled and less independent elements of the gig economy.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, added: “While the holiday season has certainly had an impact on recruiting activity, what is particularly exciting is the continued demand we are seeing for highly qualified contract professionals. qualified, as the talent shortage remains a challenge for UK employers.This flexible segment of the workforce will continue to play a crucial role in the country’s economic growth, but with the elusive Jobs Bill absent of the Queen’s Speech and no clarity around the Single Executive Body (SEB), the talent pools for entrepreneurs may soon dwindle.”

Joe McGuire, Director of Sales and Strategy, Analytics at Bullhorn, commented: “There are a lot of things affecting the job market today including rising inflation and talent shortages and we will see fluctuations in industry data at the macro level. In these unprecedented times, having easy access to real-time data, data about your own business, is essential. Understanding how your client and candidate behavior is changing and having the agility to react quickly is what will keep the most competitive agencies. »

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