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Freelancers plugging skills gaps rather than permanent hires

HR directors across the UK are looking to plug the skills gap with freelancers and contractors rather than permanent hires.

In a poll of HR magazine readers by career transitions organisation Randstad RiseSmart, 44% of companies said they currently outsourcing work to freelancers and contractors.

Over a quarter (27%) said they partner with third parties to deliver some business functions, and 26% said they are either automating to reduce the need for hiring new people, or reassigning people from one part of the business to another.

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Jill Cotton, careers advice expert at recruitment site Glassdoor, said the findings are reflective of the wider labour market. 

She told HR magazine: “Continued low employment rates coupled with record-high job vacancies and increasing numbers of economically inactive people means hiring is hard - and the skills of experienced HR talent are more in demand than ever.

“As a result, companies are having to get creative.”

While using freelancers was employers' preferred method, the research showed that more businesses (41%) will look to encourage more internal mobility and career pathing within their organisations in the next 12 months.

Randstad RiseSmart's UK managing director Simon Lyle says businesses are increasingly finding greater value in training their own employees for roles. 

He told HR magazine: "The investment in reskilling your employees is a better long term bet. If you’re bringing in a freelancer or contractor for six months, not only is that expensive but when they leave, you lose that value.

"If you can create those skills amongst your existing workforce you retain that value for a longer period. That’s what we’re seeing in the market at the moment – companies getting better at moving people internally, upskilling and redeployment. "

A majority (61%) said their business had increased external hiring when compared to last year, and 65% said their company would continue to do so in 12 months time. 

Randstad Risesmart's HR Talent Mobility Survey is based on the opinions of 101 HR magazine readers.