Category: Contractor News

Top work email mistakes revealed!

Next time you write a work-related email, it’s worth ensuring that you don’t make one of the top errors listed in a recent survey. The data, compiled by job board CV-Library, surveyed 1,100 UK workers to find out their views on workplace emails.

Interestingly, 73.2% said that they believe that they continue to remain professional when communicating via email – no matter who they’re being sent to, however, from the survey came a list of the worst email mistakes.

This included:
Sending inappropriate content (90.7%)
Sending kisses (64.6%)
Not addressing people by their name (43.8%)
Not signing off an email correctly (38.7%)
Blind copying people into the email (29.1%)
Copying in a manager just to get a response (16.6%)
Sending read receipts (11.5%)
Flagging the email as high importance (10%)

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, commented, “It’s no secret that sending inappropriate content over email is a no-go in the workplace. That said, it’s interesting to hear that other small common occurrences are bugging UK workers, not to mention the fact that the majority appear to take a more formal approach to their communications. “It’s always important to remember that the workplace is a professional environment, and while interaction through technology is increasingly becoming more and more instant, the traditional rules still apply.”

Rise in construction projects could lead to further job opportunities.

Umbrella company contractors working within the construction sector will be pleased to learn that projects in the industry have seen considerable growth, which could in turn result in further job opportunities.

The recent Economic & Construction Market Review by Barbour ABI, has revealed that during August, the number of new construction projects saw an increase of 20% with residential work helping to create the majority of these contracts last month and accounting for £2.7 billion – the highest recorded figure since Barbour ABI started its reviews.

Data also showed that it was London that reported the highest value project last month, which was for 1 Park Place and the Wembley Park residential development. Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, commented on the latest review, “The construction sector can once again be thankful for the strong showing of the residential sector, which provided £1.8 billion more than any other sector in August, along with an increase of 55 per cent compared with August 2016. “It is encouraging to see the number of projects increasing steadily, particularly the larger projects from the commercial and retail sector.

However a lack of investment in infrastructure across August and for the most part of 2017 is not encouraging, as we haven’t seen many major projects come to fruition, especially after it was highlighted as a Government priority earlier in the year.”

Oil & gas sector to increase headcount over next year.

Umbrella company contractors might be interested to learn that a new survey has revealed that for the first time in three years, the oil and gas industry predicts more job opportunities are to be created rather than lost over the next year.

The data, carried out by NES Global Talent and, surveyed more than 3,000 employers and almost 7,000 workers as part of their Oil and Gas Outlook 2017 report. It showed that in total almost 60% of employers expect to recruit significantly over the next 12 months. Of those almost a quarter (23%) of employers expect to increase their workforce by 5%; almost a fifth, (19%) expect to increase staffing by between 5 and 10%; and more than a sixth (17%) by more than 10%.

Tig Gilliam, CEO of NES Global Talent, commented, “Globally we are now increasingly confident that the market supports increased investment in the energy sector. Energy companies with the support of their partners have right-sized their organisations for the current levels of activity. With a stabilised price environment and lower cost profile more and more assets offer attractive returns on investment and operations.

This increasing activity is leading the higher performing companies to refocus on quality people to lead and deliver value.” Alex Fourlis, Managing Director of, added, “There is a sense of positivity throughout the guide the likes of which we haven’t seen since 2013 and can be read as an indication of a potential stabilisation of the oil market. This is key to kick-start projects that haven’t been viable for a while and will have a positive effect on job volume and salaries across the industry.

Comparing the number of jobs posted throughout the industry YTD to the end of July vs the same period in 2016, there has been a 2% increase year on year with jobs from corporates up by 8%.”

More contractors choosing personal network over agencies for finding new work.

Latest research has revealed that many contractors and freelancers find new contracts via their personal network, rather than through agencies. The report, carried out by Qdos Contractor, surveyed nearly 700 contractors and found that 48% are more likely to find new work through either referrals or their personal network, whereas 44% use recruitment agencies or jobs boards.

It’s believed that the recent public sector IR35 reform might be one of the reasons for contractors avoiding agencies more, because of their involvement with a contractor’s IR35 status. Seb Maley, Qdos Contractor CEO, commented on the recent report, saying, “While there isn’t much in it, many contractors prefer to source new projects through referrals and a personal network which they’ve worked hard to build throughout their careers. “That said, recruitment agencies – which are able to offer independent workers relevant opportunities consistently – continue to play a vital role in how contractors find work.

For agencies to attract even greater numbers of contractors though, they must show independent workers they are doing everything in their power to help public sector clients make well-informed IR35 decisions. Understandably, contractors will want to know that their agency is working closely with their client to help set an accurate employment status.” He added, “Should IR35 reform be extended to the private sector – which looks increasingly likely – this will become even more important.”

Cybersecurity soft skills in high demand

Umbrella company contractors working within the IT sector, particularly in cybersecurity, will be pleased to learn that soft skills are in high demand.

A recent report, carried out by Dimensional Research for Tripwire, Inc. questioned IT security professionals and found that of the 315 surveyed, 100% firmly believe that soft skills are vital when hiring for their teams. When asked to choose which skills were most important to them when taking on additional staff for their security teams, they answered:

‘Analytical thinker’ (65%)
‘Good communicator’ (60%)
‘Troubleshooter’ (59%)
‘Strong integrity and ethical behaviour’ and
‘Ability to work under pressure’ (both at 58%)

Of those surveyed, 72% said that the need for soft skills has grown significantly over the last two years, with 21% believing that soft skills are in fact more important than technical skills when it comes to hiring. Tim Erlin, vice president of product management and strategy at Tripwire, commented, “The cybersecurity industry should not overlook the soft skills that are needed to build a strong security program. “The reality is that today’s security pros need to go beyond technical expertise. Security practitioners need to be good communicators who can connect cybersecurity issues to business priorities, rally the rest of the organisation to get involved, solve tough problems and handle sensitive issues with integrity.”

IR35 changes having a negative impact on London Underground project.

With the IR35 public sector changes having been put in place earlier this year, it seems that there has been quite a negative impact in many areas, as contractors are choosing to look elsewhere for work. As a direct result of this, there are talent shortages being found across many sectors – not long after the changes were made it was made apparent that the NHS was suffering with a lack of medical professionals willing to risk their IR35 status, and now a new report has revealed that it has also affected the London Underground.

Transport for London (TfL) have confirmed that severe delays to the renewal of the London Underground is a direct result of the IR35 changes. The TfL’s report says: ‘A significant number of critical weld project employees left TfL as a result of IR35 – a revised tax legislation affecting public sector contractors. We are currently working on mitigations to reduce the impact on the project.’

Andrew Chamberlain, IPSE’s (Association of Independent Professionals and Self-Employed) Deputy Director of Policy has responded to this latest news, “This report confirms what we have known all along. The changes to IR35 have damaged the ability of public sector organisations to attract the talent they need and deliver projects on time.”

“There is mounting evidence that the IR35 changes in the public sector are causing significant disruption. IPSE is renewing its call for a comprehensive review of the impact of this measure across the public sector.”

October shows sharp rise in contractor vacancies

Positive news for UK contractors, as recent research shows that vacancies rose sharply during last month. The latest IHS Markit/REC Report on Jobs also found that despite contractor billings increasing at the softest pace since April, growth remained comfortably above the survey average. Broad-based growth of demand for contract / temp staff was reported in October – the strongest increase was signalled for nursing/medical/care workers, followed by Blue Collar and accounting/financial. Overall, growth of demand for contractors remained stronger than that for permanent staff in the public sector.

Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive, commented, “Last month, recruiters helped even more people find permanent jobs – this is great news as it shows that employers are continuing to hire. However, the data also shows that growth is slowing down and one of the reasons is that we simply do not have enough people for all the roles that are out there at the moment. And the number of vacancies is still getting higher.

“For jobseekers this is good news as employers are willing to pay higher starting wages to attract the right candidates. “We already know that EU workers are leaving because of the uncertainties they are facing right now. We therefore need clarity around what future immigration systems will look like. Otherwise, the situation will get worse and employers will face even more staff shortages.”

Self-employed are less stressed than everyone else!

Umbrella company contractors will be pleased to learn that the self-employed sector has been found to be less stressed compared to their permanent counterparts. The recent data, compiled by AXA Business Insurance, dissolved a number of myths surrounding the self-employed sector in its annual Stress Index. Many people will assume that contractors are more likely to suffer from stress due to the nature of contracting, however, findings from the report show that fewer self-employed people said their stress came from their work life: 42% compared to 61% of company employees.

Work for yourself and you are also three times less likely to say you deal with ‘difficult’ people as part of your daily work. The overall result of the survey revealed that those working for themselves are not only less stressed, but they have a better work-life balance and better mental wellbeing than everyone else too. Gareth Howell, Managing Director, AXA Direct, commented, “We have the stereotype of the adrenalin driven entrepreneur and assume that being your own boss is always stressful. Looking at our index, self-employed people do indeed appear stressed, but that’s only before you compare them to everyone else. This is a fascinating bit of insight: does life just get less stressful when you’re self-employed, or do you simply become more resilient?”

Contractor billings rose sharply in September

Umbrella company contractors will be pleased to learn that a recent report has shown positive results for the UK’s contracting sector. The latest IHS Markit / Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) Report on Jobs revealed that contractor billings rose sharply during September. Looking at a regional analysis, the quickest rate of contractor / temp billings was reported in Scotland, closely followed by the North of England. The data also found that Blue collar achieved first place in the rankings for contract / temporary staff demand during last month, while nursing/medical/care scored second place.

All remaining categories also saw steep increases in demand. Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive, commented on the recent report, “Recruiters are finding it even harder to find people to fill vacancies. Candidate availability has been falling for the past four years and the record high UK employment rate plus a slowdown in the number of EU nationals coming to work here is exacerbating the situation, potentially leaving roles unfilled.

“Across the UK permanent placements are slowing, but London is faring worse with placements declining for the first time in eleven months and the financial sector in particular struggling to recruit for roles such as audit, payroll and risk. “Low-skill roles are also hard to fill in areas like food processing, warehouses and catering – sectors that employ a higher proportion of people from the EU than others across the economy. We urge the government to ensure any new immigration system includes provisions for low-skilled and temporary workers so that warehouses, supermarkets and restaurants can access the people they desperately need.”

Philip Hammond eyes £1bn budget raid on contractors

According to the Time, the chancellor is contemplating a £1bn raid on contractors aimed at a crackdown on “disguised employment” in the private sector, which could force businesses to add self-employed staff to their payroll, pushing up everyone’s tax bill. This move is likely to be announced in next month’s budget to level the playing field between salaried staff and contractors. It has been suggested that this could provide a boost to Hammond, who is scrambling to fund public sector pay rises and to increase spending on the NHS and social care.

The Treasury is targeting IT contractors, consultants and other freelancers who are paid through “personal service companies” (PSC’s or Single Person Ltd Companies). Currently, it is up to the workers to pay the correct personal tax and national insurance contributions. HM Revenue & Customs believes that most of them do not comply in full.

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