The outlook of the UK job market in 2018 continues to look promising for contractors. Vacancies, billings and pay rates remain encouraging, persistently growing throughout December and into the New Year. According to recruitment agencies surveyed for the REC/IHS Markit Report on Jobs, the introduction of new projects and a greater demand for short-term workers contributed dramatically to the rise in vacancies and temp billings.

The rate of growth softened very slightly at the end of 2017 from 59.7 in November to 59.4[1] in December. Nonetheless, the proportion remained strongly above the long-run average of 55.5 for temp billings, which has been a recurring development within the UK job market since August 2016. Moreover, the highest inflation in contractor placements was recorded in London with rates of expansion marked across the rest of the UK as well.

Furthermore, contractors pay rates continued to rise significantly at the end of 2017 with the rate of inflation accelerating to a three-month high in December. This further illustrated by the index moving from 56.1 in November to 57.1 in December; a significant increase. Scotland’s job market was registered as having the highest increase in pay.

The staggering rise in pay has been attributed to the decline in supply of skilled professionals; a trend that has been evident since August 2013 according to the REC. Consequently, as a means to entice the best talent and retain experienced staff, employers are increasing pay rates to compete with other organisations. Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive endorses this viewpoint, stating,

“Employers as a response to these candidate shortages are offering increased starting salaries to attract staff […] this has been the case for some time.”

According to Contractor UK, IT professionals continue to be drastically in demand, with those adept at repairing systems expected to be increasingly sought out for their particular skill set. This being a result of the fallout from recent revelations that almost all processors as far back as 1995 are susceptible to attackers stealing sensitive data due to two chip vulnerabilities. In addition, the most in-demand sector for temporary and contractor staff is within the medical industry. Kevin Green claims,

“Nursing and medical staff remain the most in demand for temporary roles across the UK – further evidence of the strain the NHS is feeling on filling vacancies.”

Nonetheless, as a contractor, this is good news for landing new positions and enhancing your career.


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[1] An index reading above 50 signals a higher number of placements/billings than the previous month. Readings below 50 signal a decline compared with the previous month.