Just six per cent of accountancy contractors spent 90 days or more between contracts in Q1 2012 – the lowest number in over three years. Long-term periods without contracts peaked at 8.6 per cent in Q1 2010, but has since fallen slightly in Q1 2011 and, finally, to 5.9% in Q1 2012.
Separately, research on behalf of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) shows that vacancies for temporary workers with accountancy skills was up 37 per cent in March – the third successive monthly rise.
According research by giant group plc, the umbrella employment provider, demand for accountancy skills is strengthening in key areas, but demand for accountancy contractors in particular is partly being fuelled by hirers’ nervousness about taking on permanent staff.
Matthew Brown, Managing Director of giant group, said: “After rising steadily throughout the recession, long-term joblessness among accountancy contractors peaked two years ago and has been falling ever since. Demand for accountancy skills across the board may not quite be back to pre-crisis levels but, in some niche areas, there is a worsening shortage of talent.
“With hirers still nervous about boosting permanent headcounts, demand for temporary workers has surged, partly to compensate.”
According to giant, the tougher regulatory environment has increased demand for auditors and financial accountants to work on projects which involve enhancing financial controls and reporting frameworks.
Matthew Brown said: “Across financial services, demand for accountancy skills in the regulatory space has increased, particularly in change management roles. Change management programmes, by their very nature, tend to have relatively short project cycles. This means that contractors are usually the preferred staffing resource rather than permanent staff.”
According to the survey, accountancy contractors are also more optimistic about their pay prospects than this time last year. Sixty-one per cent think their pay will increase over the next 12 months, a sall increase on last year. Just over five per cent of accountancy contractors now earn £100 per hour or more, compared to four per cent in Q1 2011.
Matthew Brown said: “With demand for accountancy contractors rising, upward pressure on pay is building. Contractors with experience in specific regulatory environments, Solvency II for example, are able to command double digit pay increases.”
If you wish to comment on this article, please log in and use the Reply button below. Registering is simple and easy to do online - see 'Join Shout99'.