26th April 2021
Despite ongoing travel restrictions and the risks relating to COVID-19 and new variants of the virus affecting the movement of labour in Europe, the market for contractor recruitment activity remains buoyant across the continent. And it is now also starting to grow rapidly outside the EU bloc as recruitment agencies continue to tap into global opportunities for contractors. In fact, according to our latest research, two countries that have seen an upsurge in the requirement for contractor management solutions are South Africa and India.
So, what has caused this? The relaxation of restrictions across some areas in these destinations has certainly played a part in this demand. However, the possibility of remote working has clearly benefited organisations who are now able to employ international contractors and thereby circumvent any travel restrictions that are in place.
As our Sales Director, Stefanie Cook, said recently in Staffing Industry Analysts: “We’re increasingly seeing contractors, recruiters and end clients looking beyond Europe, with South Africa and India currently leading a significant proportion of the demand for in-country contractor management solutions. This may be partly due to the terrible issues caused by COVID-19 in both countries ”
“Much of this shift has arguably been driven by the uptick in remote working options for contract professionals – meaning that recruiters and hirers are less limited by borders when sourcing temporary experts. Instead, we are increasingly seeing staffing businesses able to take a more strategic standpoint and focus on where the talent can be found, without concerns around in-country Right to Work regulations, immigration checks and visa requirements.”
International contractor trends: EU remains top destination
Despite the pandemic hitting the continent hard, the EU still remains a significant source of business for global recruitment agencies looking to make contractor placements. There are of course ongoing travel restrictions, which contractors and recruiters need to be aware of. As a case in point, France recently continued with its progress in lifting travel restrictions by allowing those who have been vaccinated or have tested negatively for COVID to enter the country. President Macron announced that working jointly with other member states to introduce a vaccine passport would help facilitate travel not only for EU but also non-EU citizens from countries such as the US and UK. However, he also said that restrictions on countries where variants have spread, such as Brazil, South Africa, Chile and Argentina would be more stringent.
Following a rise in the number of cases, Belgium is adopting a completely different stance, and even though bans on non-essential travel expired on 19th April, the country will revert to previous rules strongly discouraging travel. Yves Stevens of the National Crisis Centre, warned that travellers ought to check carefully the restrictions in other European countries before departing and must fill in a passenger locator form (PLF). He explained to SchengenVisaInfo.com that “The PLF must also be filled in by everyone coming to our country by plane or boat, or by train or bus if you are travelling from a country outside the EU or Schengen area”.
Europe’s biggest economy Germany – which has allowed entry to those arriving from other EU member states and the Schengen area including Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein and non-EU countries like Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand – has taken the decision to remove its border controls with the Czech Republic as of 14th April. The restrictions had been in place since 14th February to curb the spread of the third wave of the pandemic. Any person entering Germany must still present a negative COVID-19 test result taken in the last 48 hours.
Meanwhile the government in the Netherlands has advised its citizens not to travel until 15th May, having taken into account infections in other member states and a concerning rise in the number of patients in intensive care units domestically. Mark Rutte, the prime minister, has also urged for calm following recent rioting, “I understand the impatience, and we see unrest in society, but at the same time, locally, I see the huge efforts from mayors to maintain the peace. It is important for us all, and it is a responsibility for us all. We have to do this together.”
Top industries for international contractors
In terms of the hottest sectors for contractor recruitment activity, our analysis also found that the demand for experts and tax compliance management solutions is being sought across a broad range of different sectors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pharmaceuticals industry leads the way given the demand for specialist skills in one of the world’s most booming sectors right now. But industries such as IT, Engineering and Oil & Gas have also been generating much of the contractor management needs during the first quarter of 2021 as economic activity starts to pick up.
The demand for contract professionals has remained steady throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in the EU. However, with more organisations having the flexibility to take on remote workers who don’t need to be onsite, recruitment agencies and employers are now sourcing skills from a truly global talent pool. There are plenty of opportunities for contractors all over the world, which bodes well for the rest of 2021, but compliance with international and local regulations when employed on a contract internationally is highly complex. With a number of risks associated with the failure to comply with tax legislation – including fines, criminal charges and potential prison sentences – ensuring you operate on the right side of the law is crucial.
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