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UK Skills Shortage Heralds the Rise of the “Super Contractor”


Insights from recruitment firm owners reveal that the UK skills gap is widening, with a lack of suitable candidates and increasing recruitment bill likely to impede SME business growth.

Research conducted by Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance reveals that a growing demand for skilled workers is driving an increase in contract roles, 72 per cent of recruiters report inflated demand for contract or temporary placements as opposed to permanent roles, rising to 85 per cent in London.

This problem is most pronounced in the Healthcare sector, where 92 per cent of recruiters cited a ‘skills mismatch’ as their biggest challenge, closely followed by the logistics (90 per cent) and technology industries (87 per cent).

Moving forwards, this issue is likely to intensify due to changing immigration legislation; from 2016, non-European Economic Area workers will need to earn over £35,000 in order to settle in the UK for longer than six years. 72 per cent of recruiters predict that this will have a detrimental effect on business, by reducing the number of available, skilled candidates.

John Atkinson, head of commercial business at Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, said:

“As the dichotomy between supply and demand in the UK job market continues to widen, employers will likely become more dependent on specialist recruitment agencies to source skilled workers. This skills shortage is likely to increase staff turnover and this uncertainty is detrimental to business growth, especially for SMEs. Businesses must work to increase employee retention and focus on refining methods to attract suitable candidates.”

“Changes to immigration guidelines will have a huge impact, especially within the healthcare sector, which currently relies on thousands of nurses who fall below the £35,000 salary threshold required for an extended UK work permit.”

With market conditions favouring the utilisation of head hunters, especially in the sourcing of contractors, there is a huge opportunity for recruitment sector growth, potentially in the form of new start-ups companies. However, it is worth noting that 38% of recruiters reported that cash flow this was their biggest challenge when starting out and 30% cited poor cash flow as the reason that most recruitment firms fail.

John Atkinson added:

“In order to prepare themselves for an increase in demand, recruitment firms should invest in back office technology and work to secure cash flow now. Our research shows that high value, fast turn-around contract roles are increasing in popularity, the most financially stable and agile firms will benefit most.”

To help start-up recruitment firms, Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance has created a downloadable guide on overcoming the challenges in the recruitment industry.


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John joined Hitachi Capital in 2004 as the Head of Marketing for Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance. He was promoted to Group Head of Marketing in 2007 to oversee marketing across all divisions of Hitachi Capital. In April 2010 John was promoted to Head of Commercial Business for Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance to help rapidly grow the business focussing on strategy, planning, product development and managing the sales and marketing functions.

Prior to joining Hitachi Capital John held various marketing and product development roles at Halifax and Lloyds fleet business, Autolease. Recently John has focused on developing Hitachi Capital’s Inspired Payroll product, which specifically offers funding and back office solutions for the recruitment industry. He’s a regular on judging panels for recruitment industry awards and loves looking for innovative and new ways to help businesses grow.

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