This is particularly encouraging considering that the temporary and contracts market historically acts as an accurate barometer for recovery in the greater recruitment industry in general. Aside from the robust interim market areas such as long term sickness and maternity cover, we have been commissioned by clients in both the public and private sectors to provide specialist consultants for specific projects on fixed term contracts. The obvious benefit, aside from the cost implications or the significant reduction in commitment to permanent appointments, is that employers are able to recruit specific skills for specific phases and projects. This is even more of an attractive solution given the increased quality of professionals in the marketplace available at short notice and reasonable rates. Living in a world governed by restrictive and, at times, draconian employment laws it is often difficult to recruit a permanent employee into a position made redundant in the past 12 months.

This is most evident in investment programmes such as the UK’s Building Schools for the Future Primary Capital Programme, a costly and controversial government scheme. Here managers have been able to recruit design, construction, procurement or delivery experts for specific stages for specified deadlines. This is reflective of many schemes, both new and old, where cost savings and other financial pressures are dictating a more prudent approach, and equally satisfies the “powers that be” in HR and Finance departments.

We expect in the coming 6 months an increase in the temporary-to-permanent appointments. The previous concerns that interim and temporary workers are second rate has changed. There has been an evolution in the market with a professional tier of interim managers and consultants who have chosen to take their careers in that direction. Another positive result of the past few years has been an increase in the availability of high quality professionals willing to work on a temp to perm basis for obvious reasons. The high calibre candidates that are currently in interim/contract roles are sure to impress employers. With the cautiously improving investment and development markets stirring more positive outlooks, it is possible that employers will commit permanent contracts to those that they hire on an interim basis, as proven and valuable entities. In essence clients are therefore able to exercise a “try-before-you-buy” recruitment strategy which offers greater accuracy and is flexible in its application. Clients also benefit from the outsourcing of responsibility, management and payroll to recruitment agencies further enhancing the advantages of this employment route.

In conclusion, we will have seen, and will continue to see, risk-adjusted recruitment decisions encouraging the employment of contract and interim workers. Business line managers are able to readdress headcount shortfalls with expert individuals for relatively low costs and flexible contract terms. It is anticipated that this trend will continue well into 2010 and bodes well as an indication that the start of the end is near!!!

By Timothy Rowe