The UK’s freelancing and contracting community has proven staunchly resilient to the UK’s recession, and also appear to be benefitting now the economy is on the up.

The latest employment figures from the REC and KPMG reveal that March 2014 saw the fastest decrease in availability amongst contract workers for ten years, as more and more independent professionals find themselves fully booked. This rosy employment outlook also made an appearance in the permanent staffing sector, with the number of available candidates falling at the fastest rate since October 2004.

Contractors don’t have it all their own way though – while permanent staff saw their pay increase at the fastest rate since 2007 those in freelance, contract or temporary positions saw their pay growth increase slower than in the previous five months.

As the UK’s economy continues to improve an increasingly employed workforce combined with a problematic skills gap means many vacancies are going unfilled. The REC called on the Government to implement “a joined up approach to immigration.” Tom Hadley, REC Director of Policy, said:

“Worsening candidate shortages mean that the number of people available to fill both temporary and permanent jobs is falling at the sharpest rate in nearly a decade. We have a core group of long-term unemployed people whose skills don’t fit with current vacancies and are unable to access the jobs market.

“As well as up skilling UK workers, the government needs to take a joined up approach to immigration. A priority is addressing the restrictions on visas for highly skilled workers, which would allow businesses to access the people they need to grow and create jobs for more British workers.”

Bernard Brown, Head of Business Services at KPMG, added:

“Britain may not yet be near the levels of full employment that Chancellor George Osborne committed to last week but, with permanent and temporary placements remaining strong, anyone looking for a new job must be increasingly confident that their search will soon be over.

“It also appears that employers are attempting to encourage candidates to move away from the short-term mentality of temporary roles by raising the bar with the starting salaries aligned to permanent positions. Today’s data shows ‘offer salaries’ picking up at their sharpest pace for almost 7 years, whilst contract staff saw their pay increase at the slowest rate since November 2013.”

Photo by Tristan Schmurr