Exploring the Popularity of Contract Roles in the IT Industry

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The number of workers with fixed contracts rather than full time employment positions is growing rapidly. In fact, the Office of National Statistics reported a 3.1% jump in ‘self-employment’ (a term that includes contracting) in the UK between 2001 and 2017; that’s an increase from 3.3 million to a whopping 4.8 million. This highlights a definite shift in how businesses are choosing to recruit skills.

The reason for the increase in contract positions lies with both the workers and with the businesses themselves. Workers, for example, enjoy benefits such as greater flexibility and increased pay, while businesses benefit from reduced outgoings and almost instantaneous provision of required talent.

However, what’s interesting to note is that, despite these benefits to both businesses and workers, contracting is more common in some industries than others. A BBC report, for example, suggests that the education, finance, and health sectors have few contracting opportunities. As we know, IT and technology has many contracting positions available. So why is contracting so popular in this industry?


Skills vs. Continuity

The reason for the popularity of contracting in some sectors, and the fewer opportunities in other sectors, really comes down to what a business needs. Does it need skills, or does it need continuity? While both can, of course, exist together, it’s about what the industry needs to prioritise in order to see success.

Let’s look at the education industry, for example. Education requires skills, certainly, but perhaps more important is continuity. Educators need to understand the individual abilities of their students, they need to know what areas have been covered, and they need to have a plan in place for improving knowledge. The same is true for healthcare, with a need for continuity to ensure the best course of treatment.

IT is different, and that’s because this is an industry that is changing all the time. In fact, strict continuity in technology is likely to do more harm than good, leaving businesses lagging behind using outdated languages and techniques, while their competitors break the cycle and implement new ways of working.


The IT Skills Gap

There is a notable skills gap that exists within the IT industry, and that’s because it is almost impossible for the talent pool to keep up with the ever-evolving skills needs of businesses. Consider blockchain, for example. Right now, this is a highly sought after skill, but we are very much at a point where the blockchain trend could go in any direction. Smart businesses know that their requirement for niche, on-trend skills such as this may not be long lasting; it is a skill they require to meet the needs of their clients now, but realistically, 12 months down the line their clients may be asking for something different.

And that’s exactly why contracting is so popular in the IT industry. It’s about instant gratification; about getting today’s in-demand skills on board, and ensuring capacity to do exactly the same tomorrow.


Roles Unfulfilled

Unfortunately, despite opportunity, there are many contract positions that are unfilled. A primary reason for this is that workers simply do not know the best ways to make the leap from full time employment to flexible contract work. Contract Recruit are here to help, making the transition to contracting simple.

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