UK contractors were most in demand in the nursing, medical and care sector and the hotel and catering industry in January 2018, new data shows.
According to the latest monthly Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and Markit, demand for umbrella contractors continued to rise last month, albeit at a slightly softer pace than that recorded over the past few months.
But at the same time, the pay rates being offered to contractors rose to their highest level for almost three years, meaning there are some lucrative opportunities to be found for contractors and freelancers across the labour market at the moment.
Temporary workers were in particularly high demand in the Midlands in January, with the region recording the quickest increase in contractor billings over the course of the month.
Sharp rises in contractor demand were also recorded in both the north and the south of England, as well as in London. Meanwhile, although growth was registered in Scotland, it was at a much lower rate.
Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the REC, commented: "We are seeing a continued rise in jobs filled via recruiters as it gets more challenging for businesses to find candidates.
"This increasing competition for good-quality staff is driving up starting salaries with employers willing to pay higher wages to attract the right people.
"So, it's a good time to move jobs, especially as employers aren't increasing wages for their existing workforce."
All of this is therefore good news for umbrella company contractors, who look set to see continued increased demand for their skills over the next few months, for which they are likely to be well-remunerated.
What's more, with skills shortages continuing to cause hiring problems, agency contractors may find themselves in demand in the sectors requiring the most permanent workers. In January, these were IT and computing, engineering, and accounting and financial.