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UK – Contractor confidence on the rise

19 August 2014

Contractors across a range of sectors are feeling more confident about both pay and opportunities according to a study by professional umbrella employment provider giant group. The company’s latest analysis compared current contractor sentiment to its ‘temporary recruitment market report’, which analysed the healthcare, finance, IT, engineering and education sectors in 2013.

The study has found that the UK contracting arena has now returned to pre-recession levels with many professionals reporting more opportunities now than before the economic downturn. As a result, contractors now place less emphasis on longer assignments, indicating they’re optimistic about the state of the employment market.

Managing Director of giant group, Matthew Brown commented: “While we expected the results one year on from the 2013 report to be positive, we didn’t predict such wide spread improvements to have occurred so quickly. While some sectors are still bouncing back, most noticeably the healthcare arena, the upturn in optimism in the IT, engineering and education sectors has been remarkable and is indicative of wider growth in the economy. If this improvement continues at the same pace, the UK contracting arena should be in for an exciting few years with plenty of opportunities across a range of sectors.”

“Projects such as the development of the Crossrail and HS2 (High Speed) railway lines are behind some of the growth, however much of the optimism can be attributed to budget-holders feeling more confident that now is the time to invest and grow into the future.  Many will have resisted taking on specialist contractors to support business expansion and instead focused on batting down the hatches during the economic downturn, however now organisations have improved finances, many are investing in niche expertise that can help them to grow,” he added.  

Sentiment by Sector

IT - Two-thirds of contractors expect their earnings to climb, while only 5% expect rates to drop, a reduction of -3% from the 2013 report. The significance of job security fell to 2006-07 levels with just 17% highlighting this as the most important factor in their decision to move into contracting, down by -3% from last year’s report.

Engineering - One year on from the 2013 report, fortunes have also improved in the engineering contractor market with 93% of contractors predicting their earnings will either increase or stay the same over the next 12 months. Increasing numbers of professionals also highlighted growing job security with 66% saying they felt more secure or around the same in their roles compared to one year ago.

Finance - 98% of finance contractors are expecting job opportunities to grow over the next 12 months. Contractors are also predicting a rise in the number of opportunities in the private sector, which can be attributed to an increase in compliance legislation in the sector from 12 months ago as regulators look to curb reckless banker behaviour.

Healthcare - Opportunities for healthcare contractors have doubled since the 2013 report with 18% reporting work in this area to plug the well-reported gaps in the workforce.

Education - Increasing optimism is also being shown in the education sector with 23% reporting that the most important element in their decision to become a contractor was higher income. Just 14% of contractors cited this as the reason in the 2013 report with the majority focusing on job security.  In other findings, 86% of contractors are expecting their earnings to increase or stay the same, indicating further optimism could be on the way.

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