contractorThe Office for National Statistics has recently published figures which show that 80,000 more people were made unemployed in the three month period before July 2011, taking the total number of jobless to a shocking 2.51 million.

As unemployment rates soar in the UK the demand for contractors could also be set to increase in the next few weeks and months as businesses look for alternative staffing solutions.

The job cuts will mean that many businesses have lost highly skilled staff due to cost-cutting and so will be looking to replace their workforce with the services of contractors. In doing so bosses will be able to complete projects whilst keeping the permanent head count down to a minimum.

This outlook is supported by research carried out by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) whose latest JobsOutlook survey revealed that 83% of employers expected to increase their use of temporary staff during the next 12 months.

The research also shows that the number of temporary positions in the UK is at its highest ever, with an estimated 1.6 million temporary workers under current employment.  The REC has put these figures down to a business demand for staff to be as flexible as possible during this time of economic unrest in the UK.

Roger Tweedy, REC director of research, believes that the numbers were a clear reflection of a very unstable economic context, commenting:

“With the economy continuing to stagnate, businesses will understandably remain cautious, which is why we are seeing an increase in the longer-term demand for flexible staff such as temporary and contract workers.

“This is a timely reminder of how a flexible workforce can help employers meet peaks and troughs in demand for services and products during uncertain times.”

Some commentators believe that temporary contracts will be significantly cut back with the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations in October, however with a lack of permanent staff many employers will have little choice but to continue using freelancers and contractors.

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Photo by Karen BlahaCC