CONTRACT positions appear to be gaining traction among both employers and workers here, say recruitment firms.

Pioneered by the banking and finance sector and larger multinational corporations, contract and temporary recruitment has been on the rise across sectors in the last three to four years, they told BT.

Leanne Nettleship, the manager of Robert Walters' Human Resources Specialist Contracting Division, said: "Temporary hires are anticipated to become the key to workforce planning for companies throughout 2013."

She added that as companies face more difficulty in getting clearance to fill full-time employment vacancies, a shift is taking place away from Asian notions of job longevity and stability. Contract hires have thus been a swift solution for manpower gaps.

"The flexibility of such roles allows them to bridge a resource gap for a fixed period of time without increasing headcount. There is also the option to manage long-term sick leave or maternity leave without added pressure on the existing teams," she said.

Indeed, there are other benefits to employers who offer contract work. For example, they can hire expertise for specific projects or to tide them over bottleneck periods, and then release these contract workers at short notice.

Contract workers also support a business' permanent workforce, as employers no longer have to redistribute work among current permanent employees, which can lead to negative repercussions.

Another bonus is that contract assignments can double as probational projects that allow employers to assess potential employees' suitability for the job.

However, Joshua Yim, chief executive of Achieve Group, has his reservations about contract work.

He said it is still less prevalent here than in the US and Europe. He attributes this to the relatively stronger pro-employer culture here, under which employers can let workers go without much hassle, unlike in other countries.

Nonetheless, the hiring of contract workers is on the rise.

Executive general manager of Hudson Singapore Andrew Tomich, agreeing, said that a Hudson survey last year found that 30 per cent of employers are now using temporary or fixed-term contractors more regularly.

Singapore workers also appear to like the idea of contract jobs.

A recent survey by Hays showed that out of 200 Singapore workers, 80 per cent said they favoured contract jobs in view of the current global economic environment.

People looking for contract work are likely to be attracted by the prospects of greater work-life balance, as contract work allows them to arrange their work around family commitments.

These are the workers who also want more say in their career track and workload, as they can pick their own employers and the assignments to take on.

Professionals, in particular, opt for contract work because the demand for their skills means they have more earning potential. Employers can also afford their elevated rates since the companies save on other permanent staff benefits such as annual leave.

However, not everyone agrees that contract work is just the ticket in these times.

Mr Tomich said: "Contract roles are still not seen as an optimal or long-term career option. As a contractor, you don't get all the benefits of a full-time employee."

However, Mr Yim said: "To a job seeker who's currently unemployed, there is not much difference to him, since even a permanent job may not guarantee him better job security."