Keep your CV tip top, do your networking and claim expenses to help weather the jobs market storm.
It seems like every week we have yet another ‘UK Jobs’ report at the moment and all of them are painting a gloomy picture of what it’s like out there.
The CIPD and the CBI both published reports on Monday and although both had a sliver of good news included, both forecast challenging times ahead.
The CIPD Labour Market Outlook (http://bit.ly/t2VBCb) concluded that UK employers are scaling back on all employment-related operations. This did include offshoring jobs or recruiting from overseas and also suggested that UK employers are sticking with what they have as the report also forecast fewer redundancies.
Commenting on the report, Gerwyn Davies, Public Policy Advisor for the CIPD said; “The figures point to a slow, painful contraction in the jobs market. Many firms appear to be locked in ‘wait and see’ mode, with some companies scaling back on all employment decisions against a backdrop of increasing uncertainty as a result of the Euro Zone crisis and wider global economic turmoil. The good news resulting from this lull in business activity is that fewer employers are looking to relocate abroad or make redundancies. The downside is that recruitment intentions are falling, which will make further rises in unemployment therefore seem inevitable given that public sector job losses are outpacing the predictions made by the Office for Budget Responsibility. There is no immediate sign of UK labour market conditions improving in the short or medium term.”
The CBI study went for a more positive angle in the survey it produces in conjunction with Harvey Nash (http://bit.ly/tZaOLh), concluding that the private sector recovery is continuing, albeit tentatively.
The CBI’s long-term view was also more positive with 47% of employers predicting that their workforce will be bigger in a year’s time.
And again, the situation in Europe is prominent in their analysis. Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Director-General, commented: “It is encouraging that firms right across the UK are growing their workforces, especially smaller companies.
“But employers are making hiring plans on shifting sands and there is a risk the tentative private sector jobs recovery could be blown off course by fast-moving economic events at home and abroad. We need to be doing all we can to get the UK working, so it is worrying that changes to rules around hiring agency workers are leading to fewer openings for temps. There needs to be an early review to minimise the damage this directive is causing and to ensure we retain as many job opportunities as possible.”
Finally, APSCo has also reported a downturn in demand for contractors of 13% in its Monthly Trends Report (http://bit.ly/t2VBCb) although the data analysed dates back to September. Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, said: “Contractors are always the first into and the first out of a downturn. Employers tend to cut back on contingent workers before they slice into their permanent workforce, so with joblessness rising again, we would expect contractors to be bearing a disproportionate number of those job losses.
“This is the first sign of a fall in demand for highly skilled contractors after a robust recovery this year. Hopefully, what we are seeing now is a momentary wobble as employers adopt more conservative recruitment policies in light of the Euro Zone crisis.
“Contractors may be in the vanguard of corporate headcount reductions, but the flipside is that when confidence revives, contractors are usually the first to be hired. Employers needing additional capacity usually look to boost contractor numbers rather than risk the cost of taking on permanent staff while the economy is still fragile.
“It’s the flexibility that contractors provide that makes them such a valuable part of the UK economy. They have been hugely beneficial to employers during the financial crisis, allowing workforce numbers to be rebalanced with relative ease.”
There can be no denying that it is tough out there for contractors so our advice would be to keep an eye on your war chest, make sure your CV is in tip top condition and bang up to date, and do your networking. The old adage of “it’s not what you know…” can be true sometimes.
And of course make sure you are maximising your take home pay by claiming for all your legitimate expenses and support each other! If you want to tap into the thoughts and opinions of other umbrella contractors make sure you join the Parasol Contractors’ Network on LinkedIn.
What would be your tips?