Although growing numbers of employers are looking to take on temps in favour of permanent staff over the next 12 months, high levels of demand for temporary labour are creating shortages in the run-up to Christmas despite rising unemployment levels.
According to a survey among 600 employers undertaken by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), some 22% expect to increase the number of temporary workers that they take on over the next three months, with the figure rising to 28% over the next year.
Only 12% anticipate hiring more permanent staff over the next quarter, however, a 2% drop on last month, while 83% expect numbers to remain static. Over the next 12 months, a mere 22% plan to take on permanent hires, while 73% expect the size of their permanent workforce to remain the same as it is now.
Roger Tweedy, the REC’s director of research, said: “The upward trend in both short- and long-term use of temporary staff confirms that employers view flexible resourcing options as the best way of gearing themselves up for economic growth.”
Because it would be next year before the full impact of the Spending Review was felt not only by public sector employers but also private sector businesses supplying into the public sector, it was not surprising that employers were showing “increased caution” in hiring permanent staff, he added.
But a study of 2,500 recruitment agencies undertaken by de Poel, which specialises in procuring and managing temporary agency labour, revealed that nearly seven out of 10 expected to see staff shortages in the run-up to Christmas.
The logistics industry had the most negative outlook, with 42% of those questioned predicting a labour shortfall. Just under a quarter of care sector employers anticipated staff shortages, 14% of those operating in the manufacturing sector and 8% in retail.
John Salisbury, de Poel’s managing director, said the shortage was worse than last year because demand for staff had risen as companies prepared themselves for a spending rush before VAT increased in January next year and public sector cuts kicked in.
“Temps can be more selective in the jobs they choose and often migrate to the better paid ones, leaving the companies that pay lower with a shortfall of workers. Managing holiday time and monitoring levels of absenteeism is also critical,” he added.
This was because EU workers often took all of their holidays over Christmas in order to visit family, which meant the festive season often led to higher levels of absenteeism and sickness.