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Interim vacancies set to grow in 2022 says APSCo CEO

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo says demand for interim and freelance workers to continue well into next year
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Which sectors and companies are hiring interims and why?

Interim vacancies will continue to grow in 2022 as demand for flexible talent shows no signs of slowing down, according to new research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), the recruitment sector’s trade association.

According to data provided by business intelligence specialist Vacancysoft, the retail, consumer goods and services sectors have the highest number of interim vacancies.

Despite being some of the worst-hit during the pandemic, the combined sectors have published nearly 4,000 jobs so far this year and has grown by 4.2 percentage points on 2020 data. APSCo said this trend is perhaps reflective of companies within the sector utilising flexible labour during an uncertain year instead of committing to permanent headcount costs and with interest rates set to go up next year, freelancers and contractors could see a bumper year ahead.

Which companies rank highest for interim hires?

Across companies hiring for interims this year, Sky is leading the table with 200 new jobs published this year across England and Wales, a 120% year-on-year-rise. The hires are most likely due to the company’s decision to roll out its own smart television in October.

Despite the high number of interim hires at Sky, on-screen things have not been so rosy for interim workers at the broadcaster. Former Sky TV presenter Dave Clark failed to appeal his IR35 case for work carried out for Sky TV by his company Little Piece of Paradise Ltd. The IR35 decision, for Little Piece of Paradise Limited (“LPPL”), heard at the tax tribunal just over a year ago on 20th October 2020, has finally been released, with Judge Heidi Poon dismissing the appeal in principle.

The fact that the fees paid by Sky were “neither reduced for no-show nor increased when Mr Clark had to work over time” suggested that the presenter would likely be paid whether he worked or not, in the way that an employee is, said a Qdos report

This strengthened HMRC’s view that Mutuality of Obligation existed between the two parties – as did the £150,000 annual fixed fee charged by Clark to Sky, which was split equally into 12 monthly payments.

The decision relates to services provided by Dave Clark between the five tax years spanning 2013 to 2018. Such cases provide an example of how the Treasury is losing out on higher income tax generation by pushing highly-skilled self-employed workers into salaried employment or PAYE unregulated umbrella contractors, according to IR35 specialists.

Despite a spree of such legal cases in the broadcasting sector, other sectors are still actively hiring contractors. In terms of vacancy volumes, AstraZeneca follows behind Sky, with hiring levels up 32% in relation to 2020, while NatWest experienced the fastest growth with interim recruitment up 272.2% year-on-year.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo told The Freelance Informer:

“We fully expect this trend in demand for interim and freelance workers to continue well into next year as employers across the country look to utilise and develop a more flexible workforce that meets the changing needs of today’s market.

The pandemic has shown business leaders that they need to be able to scale their resources up and down at speed in line with the wider economy, said Swain And with skills shortages rife across every sector, the expertise of interim professionals will quite simply be needed until a more sustainable skills solution is developed, she added.

“Our recruitment members are in tune with the ever-changing needs of end-clients and as the need to build more flexible workforces grows, staffing businesses are increasingly shifting to rely more on sourcing interim and freelance workers.”

“However, while interim professionals may be a temporary resource, reliance on their skills will remain high for the immediate future, making it crucially important the firms have an appropriate engagement plan for these individuals,” said the APSCo CEO.

London home to most vacancies overall

The news of interim hires comes at a time that the number of new jobs published in London continues to rise, with over 20,000 vacancies in October, marking an all-time monthly high.

Vacancysoft data revealed that companies in London have published over 171,400 vacancies in 2021 to date, surpassing 2020’s total by 76%. IT specialists are in most demand, with firms in the capital publishing over 54,600 new jobs for these professionals, accounting for 30.4% of all vacancies in 2021.

With the pandemic propelling the UK’s adoption of technology and the continued need for talent to manage both remote and hybrid working strategies, it is perhaps clear to see why IT specialists are so highly sought after. 

Elsewhere, the data shows that Amazon continues to lead the table of most active hires in the capital. The firm has published over 2,700 vacancies in 2021 and is up 16.4% year-on-year. Despite this, Citi and Sky follow closely behind with even larger hiring surges of 120% and 131.2% retrospectively.

“As businesses continue to adapt to a more permanent shift to hybrid working, demand for IT specialists has naturally risen and looks set to continue to grow in the immediate future,” said Swain.

Swain notes that staff shortages have been rapidly growing as the entire UK economy begins to recover from the pandemic.

“Combine the less-than-desirable immigration route into the UK for highly skilled professionals with the rollout of Off-Payroll rules, and it’s unsurprising that so many staffing firms are struggling to meet employer demand,” said Swain.

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