Almost half (40%) of UK workers would consider working in a temporary, interim or contract position – citing a better lifestyle (47%), higher hourly pay (29%), more flexibility (26%) and exposure to new skills (19%) as the main drivers.

Regions where the ambition to contract is most prevalent include Wales (47%), Yorkshire & Humber (44%), East Midlands (42%) and London (40%).

This is closely followed by the South West (39%), West Midlands (38%), North West (38%) and the North East (33%).

The findings come from new research undertaken by staffing business Walters People.

Further analysis shows that for the first time in 18 months contracting vacancies in the UK has seen a significant boost – increasing by 29% in Q2 of this year.

Regions which have seen the biggest increase in contract or interim vacancies over the past 3 months are Birmingham (+77%), Manchester (+38%), London (+37%), Bristol (+32%), and Leeds (+24%).

Director of Walters People London, – Phill Westcott – has over 16 years of experience in contract recruitment comments:

“There are almost 5 million self-employed people in the UK – ten years ago, this number would have been in the tens of thousands. This shift is not down to any one generation but is an indicator of where the mindset of the UK workforce is moving.

“Work life balance, reticence to be part of corporate structures, lack of training or progression, unpaid overtime, exposure to new industries and the desire to seek out interesting project type work are just a few of the common reasons we often hear professionals who have made the contract-role switch or would like too.”

Industries where contracting is on the rise

The desire to contract is most prevalent for professionals in Technology & IT (48%), Procurement & Supply Chain (46%), and Banking & Financial Services (45%).

For professional industries (41%) – such as Banking & Financial Services, Legal, and Tech & IT –‘ higher hourly pay’ was the leading reason why employees would consider contracting.

For the creative industries (36%) – such as Marketing, Advertising and PR – ‘more flexibility’ was the leading reason why employees would consider contracting or interim work.

Professionals in the service sector (30%) – such as Education and Retail – considered contract work as an opportunity to ‘learn new skills’.

Employees in people-focused roles (25%) – such as HR, Healthcare, and Secretarial & Business Support – saw interim and temp work as an opportunity to ‘gain experience across a variety of industries’.

According to job vacancy data, industries that saw the biggest increase in contract or interim hiring in Q2 were Legal (+58%), HR (+30%), Secretarial & Business Support (+30%), and Accounting & Finance (+11%).

Phill Westcott adds:

“It’s fantastic to see that companies are now realising the benefits of contractors and a flexible workforce, rather than seeing it as a response to climate or business conditions.

“Quick-turnaround projects, access to specialised skills and expertise, and reduction of lag time between hiring and full productivity is just some of the benefits of hiring contractors.”