Contractors and freelancers in general can take cheer from the new Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) JobsOutlook. It is just latest in a stream of labour market surveys pointing to an upturn in the economy.If you’re an engineering contractor, you won’t be surprised to learn that 22% of clients are having difficulty hiring people with your skills. However, if you are a financial IT contractor, you have to wait until page 7 for the short sentence that could result in your prospects looking very positive in the run up to Christmas 2013, and beyond.

“The finance sector is predicted to have the strongest short-term demand after its prolonged period of significantly reduced need,” says the report. As the second largest consumer of IT contractors after software developers, any growth in the UK’s financial sector is good news if that’s your skill set.REC’s forecast is bang in line with financial recruiter Morgan McKinley’s predictions in its latest London Employment Monitor. It is also consistent with data from the REC/KPMG Report on Jobs, the Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs and the Association of Professional Staffing Companies’ Monthly Trends.

The JobsOutlook highlights that 93% of clients plan to increase or maintain their contractor workforce. And a third of client organisations are planning to grow contractor headcounts. Although this data is across all sectors, every survey is pointing to a recovery in the financial sector.

More permanent banking ‘bums on seats’ means increased demand across the board in IT departments. And you may also find that projects which have been cancelled or postponed are suddenly brought to life as optimism returns to the City.You will almost certainly start to see financial institutions turn to IT to deliver the productivity enhancements needed to take full advantage of a recovering economy without having to invest too heavily in greater headcounts. IT also has the potential to deliver competitive advantage, so sharpen up your commercial and business skills.

And if you’ve spent some time on the bench, now is the time to be shaking the tree for new contract opportunities likely to receive sign-off as the decision makers return from their holidays at the start of September