Employers relying on temps to fill vacancies amid skill shortage – REC

Filed under Press release

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Organisations across all sectors want to recruit for permanent roles, with almost one in five employers (19 per cent) actively looking to increase their headcount in the next three months, according to the latest JobsOutlook by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).


With 45 per cent of employers expecting to face a shortage of suitable candidates over the next year, the report suggests that businesses may be turning to temporary workers to meet demand as permanent hiring becomes more difficult. The latest survey of 607 employers shows:


  • a third (34 per cent) have no spare capacity and would need to recruit to meet additional demand
  • almost nine in ten (87 per cent) intend to increase or maintain their use of temporary workers in the next three months
  • a quarter (24 per cent) transfer at least half of their temporary workers to permanent positions each year.


Analysis of historic JobsOutlook data suggests that temporary workers are becoming more important as businesses react to the shortage of candidates for permanent roles. Since the beginning of 2017 an average of 55 per cent of employers who recruit temporary workers do so to ‘respond to growth’. This compares to an average of 48 per cent of employers who made the same claim in the second half of 2016.


REC chief executive Kevin Green says: 


“The majority of jobs created in recent years are full-time roles, but the data suggests that employers may need to bring in temps to fill vacancies because it’s so difficult to find candidates for permanent positions.   


"The pool of people without a job is shrinking, and the number of people deciding to switch jobs isn’t rising as much as we’d expect. Employers are improving starting salaries to attract candidates, but even with this incentive people are unsure about taking new jobs at a time of economic uncertainty.


“In many cases businesses are bringing in temps with the intention of converting them to permanent staff once they’re in the business. This is an example of how employers are seeking solutions to the skills shortage. 


“Brexit is making the situation more challenging. In London for example, a third of people working in construction are from the EU and it’s difficult to see how firms will manage if their workforce aren’t encouraged to stay in the UK and continue to contribute to our economy.”




Notes to editors:  


  1. JobsOutlook is produced by the REC in partnership with ComRes. ComRes interviewed 607 employers and owners involved in hiring by telephone between March 28 2017 and June 21 2017. Data were weighted to be representative of UK adults in employment by region, broad industry sector and public / private sector split. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables are available at www.comresglobal.com

  2. Since 2011, overall employment rate has risen from 70.3 to 74.4 per cent of the UK population. During this period the proportion of agency workers has remained within a range of 5.9 - 6.6 per cent of the total workforce.

    In March – May 2017 the unemployment rate was 4.5 per cent, down from 4.9 per cent for a year earlier and the lowest since 1975. For data see ONS

  3. Job to job flow is on an upward trend, but remains below the peak in 2004. See ONS

  4. Employers are improving starting salaries to attract candidates. See REC Report on Jobs.

  5. In London a third of people working in construction are from the EU. See REC, Building the post-Brexit immigration system.

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