15 April 2004 | Andrew Golder
Daily rates for interim purchasing managers will soar as local and central government tries to improve procurement, according to a specialist recruitment firm.
Charles Russam, chief executive of Russam GMS, which handles interim management positions, said Sir Peter Gershon's forthcoming government efficiency review (see News, 4 March) would make purchasers with the right skills a valued commodity.
Gershon is expected to call for more centralisation and collaboration in the public sector.
Russam said the changes taking place in procurement would create a new market, based on existing expertise "with a bit of IT thrown in", in which key skills would be hard to find at first.
"At least initially, it will be difficult to find quality people to get the job done," he said.
"What is going to happen when that new market picks up speed is that organisations will find it hard to get skilled people, and those they do find are going to be quite expensive."
John Scowen, chairman of the Society of Purchasing Officers in Local Government, said: "There is a shortage of skills at the moment and there is certainly a shortage of procurement staff in local government."
Russam's comments came as the company published its latest half-yearly survey of more than 5,000 interims in the UK across a range of industries.
The average day rate for a full-time interim purchasing manager was £487, up from £420 last year. The average for all types of interim managers was £481.
While Russam predicted rates for purchasers would increase, he said rates for other managers had fallen slightly in the past six months because there was more competition for jobs.
The recent reduction in prices has been partly driven by procurement professionals themselves. Purchasing departments are taking a more active role in the recruitment of interim staff.
Scowen said: "I'm hoping, in the long term, that local authorities will see they need to start appointing highly skilled procurement managers and stop using interim managers, which will bring costs down."