Despite a rise in the number of local and regional lockdowns across the UK in recent months, short-term demand for contract workers continued to increase from June to August – by a net level of +2 – according to hiring association, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s (REC) latest Jobs Outlook.
Alongside this, nearly 25 per cent of businesses said they expected a slight increase in the demand for temporary workers in the short-term (the next three months).
It should come as no surprise that businesses hiring temporary agency workers, including freelancers and contractors, said they were important in helping manage the “fast-changing organisational requirements”, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. According to the study, this figure has risen by more than 10 per cent, to 56 per cent, compared to 45 per cent from the previous year.
Organisations also stated that hiring contractors helped them manage the uncertainty of the current climate – up from 32 per cent in the previous year to 42 per cent.
The REC’s research also asked businesses whether they anticipated a shortage of temporary agency workers when surveyed from June to August. In a further positive development, only 20 per cent said they did, down from 35 per cent a year earlier.
According to the REC, these figures of concern with regards to the shortage of contract workers was particularly high in the health and social care sector – a finding which could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to exploring hiring intentions, this study also measured business confidence. Although this is still in negative territory, it has slightly improved in recent months, with confidence in making investment decisions at net -3 from June to August. As a result, the REC is of the view this shows that the worsening trend of the lockdown has largely petered out.
Sophie Wingfield, interim director of policy and campaigns at the REC, said: “A flexible jobs market has always been one of the UK’s great economic assets – keeping employment high in the good times and ensuring people have more options when times are tough.”
She added: “While the path ahead is still uncertain, many businesses will use temporary work to start to build back. That makes sense, and matches the pattern of previous recoveries. Temporary work helps firms create jobs sooner, and also helps people who need new jobs get back to earning quickly.”