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Responding to the news from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that the UK employment rate was up in Q1 of this year, driven largely by self-employed workers, Steve Sully, Regional Director, Finance & Accounting, at Robert Half, comments:

“While there may be a fall noted in jobs in the UK, the uptick in the number of people in self-employment is indicative of a continued growth in demand for highly skilled professionals in particular. We’re seeing a shift in the market with employers seemingly relying on contract resources both out of necessity as skills shortages continue, and also as a result of general nervousness to commit to permanent headcount costs as the economic uncertainty continues.

“However, there are other key factors at play in this movement: candidate confidence and a need for better take home pay. Despite an overall growth in average pay noted by the ONS, the data does show that when adjusted for inflation, remuneration actually fell 3% for total pay year-on-year for Q1 of this year. With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to impact households across the country, this drop in pay could be driving more people into self-employment and contract work which can often be more lucrative for highly skilled professionals.

“This situation is only being exacerbated by the continued confidence that we’re seeing from candidates. In fact, in our recent Job Confidence Index (JCI) – produced in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business Research – we found that job security in the UK remains in positive territory despite the economic climate. Search and progression confidence was also high, increasing quarter on quarter by the end of last year despite the initial concerns around a possible recession that we’re circling at the time.

“This demonstrates that workers across the country are confident in their ability to find work, despite the fall in vacancies.”


Press contact

Vickie Collinge

01582 790 700

About Robert Half

Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialised talent solutions consultancy, working to fill professional services roles at all levels within the finance and accounting, banking, technology, HR, marketing and legal sectors. The company has more than 300 staffing locations worldwide and offers hiring and job search services at

Robert Half understands that it takes time and effort to evaluate the best talent strategy for different businesses. For further independent advice to assist with your recruitment and workforce planning efforts, visit

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