UK businesses look to temp to fill digital skills gap.

76 per cent of employers turn to temps.

Robert Half UK has found that over three quarters (76 per cent) of employers are now turning to the temporary market to aid their digital transformation efforts. Digital transformation is one of the most challenging business projects facing employers. At a time when many are struggling to hire the right calibre of candidate to help them close the digital skills gap within their organisation, many businesses leaders are needing to turn to contract or temporary professionals to fill the need.

With more than 1.4 million temporary workers currently active in the UK, companies are increasingly tapping into a pool of highly skilled workers who operate on an interim or project basis – to help navigate digital disruption.

For employers, the temporary recruitment market can be an effective way of mitigating skills shortages while targeting candidates with highly specialised or niche skillsets such as technological understanding and change management. Seven in ten (70 per cent) employers agree that a combination of permanent, interim and temporary employees is most successful when trying to implement digital transformation initiatives.

These employees can be used in different ways. Three quarters of employers (74 per cent) use experienced interim professionals to transfer knowledge and upskill existing teams, while a further three in four (75 per cent) use them to manage specific digital transformation initiatives or projects within their organisation.

Such professionals are however in high demand, leading many employers to struggle to find the right candidates. Seven in ten (71 per cent) admitted that it was challenging to find experienced interim staff for digital transformation initiatives.

For candidates with in-demand skillsets, temporary and interim roles can allow them to maintain flexibility and the choice of project or programme of work. As such, an increasing proportion of the UK’s temporary workers are doing so out of choice, with less than 25 per cent doing so because they could not find a full-time position – the lowest level in nearly 13 years.

“Digitalisation is transforming the workplace at a rapid pace,” said Matt Weston, managing director of Robert Half UK. “New technology such as automation and artificial intelligence is being introduced to the workplace and has already started to shape the job roles of the future. Organisations lacking digital expertise and understanding will soon be left behind.

“Employers continue to turn to the temporary market in an effort to rectify the lack of digital knowledge in their company,” he added. “Experienced interim workers are able to manage digital transformation projects, often upskilling staff in the process.

“Tapping into the temporary market to access niche skillsets is not easy. Next year, IR35 will impact private sector businesses and likely increase competition for leading interim talent depending on whether an assignment falls inside or outside of IR35. It is likely that there will be a rebalancing on the most competitive rates offered to secure top contract staff. Working with a specialist recruitment agency will give employers the best possible chance at hiring the right person for such a crucial job,” Weston concludes.

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