In a bid to navigate through the uncertainties of the current economic landscape, a significant number of employers are turning towards contracting as a viable solution for their workforce needs.

Recent findings from a specialised recruitment company, Robert Walters, reveal that 32 percent of employers are planning to ramp up their hiring of contract workers this year.

Moreover, anticipation surrounding the upcoming IR35 offset rule, set to come into effect in early April, is encouraging even more employers to consider this flexible hiring option. A substantial 29 percent of employers express a positive inclination towards hiring contractors as a result of this impending regulation.

The surge in demand for contract professionals is further substantiated by job market trends. Job advertisements seeking contractors skilled in areas such as DevOps, Project Management, and Business Analysis have witnessed significant year-on-year increases. According to reports, advertisements for DevOps and Project Management roles have surged by 33 percent, while Business Analysis roles have seen a 25 percent uptick.

What is the driving force behind this shift

Lucy Bisset, Director of Robert Walters UK, sheds light on the driving forces behind this shift in hiring practices. She emphasises the attractiveness of contracting for employers grappling with tighter budgets and the need for specialised skills on a project-by-project basis.

Bisset explains, “Employers increasingly recognise the value of skills-based temporary hiring as they streamline headcounts and seek cost-cutting measures.”

Several factors contribute to the appeal of hiring contractors. Beyond the expertise they bring to specific projects, contractors offer adaptability and flexibility in working arrangements. Furthermore, they often prove to be a cost-effective option for employers, with many contractors maintaining stable day rates over the past year.

Challenges persist

However, despite the growing interest in contracting, challenges persist. Employers cite compliance issues and difficulties in sourcing skilled contractors as primary obstacles in the hiring process. Concerns regarding regulatory changes, particularly with the impending IR35 offset rule, underscore the need for employers to stay informed and adapt their hiring strategies accordingly.

Bisset stresses the importance of addressing these challenges proactively, suggesting measures such as streamlining hiring processes and offering competitive rates to attract skilled talent.

As businesses navigate through a dynamic hiring landscape, the strategic utilisation of temporary talent emerges as a pivotal component of their workforce strategies. With market conditions evolving and skills gaps widening, contracting offers an agile solution for organisations seeking to optimise their offerings and services.

In the face of economic uncertainties, the trend towards contracting reflects a pragmatic approach adopted by employers aiming to remain competitive and resilient in a rapidly changing environment.






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.