UK leaders increasingly reliant on IT contractors

An international study positions the UK as one of the top five countries for IT contractor use, as others, such as the US and China, make plans to follow suit. According to Experis.

An international study positions the UK as one of the top five countries for IT contractor use, as others, such as the US and China, make plans to follow suit. According to Experis.

Over three quarters (76 percent) of UK businesses make extensive use of IT contract workers, higher than the international average according to a new study from leading IT resourcing specialist, Experis.The research, a survey of executives with hiring responsibility for IT employees across ten countries, confirms that UK businesses are among those at the leading edge of the wider trend, tapping into this attractive pool of talent. The UK currently has more contractors by proportion than some of the world’s most advanced markets, including the US (66 percent), Japan (65 percent), and Germany (40 percent).

Yet many of the countries currently lagging behind do have intentions to accelerate their usage. Respondents in the US (19 percent) and Australia (17 percent) express plans to hire more IT contractors in core business functions in the near future. It is the BRIC markets, however, that have some of the highest expectations of usage in the future, including India (50 percent), Brazil (39 percent) and China (37 percent). Germany, on the other hand, is consistently at the low end of current contractor usage and just 8 percent of German organisations are inclined to increase use in the future.

Geoff Smith, Managing Director, Experis Europe, comments: “As the gap between employer demand and available talent continues to widen, we are seeing more UK organisations using contractors as a go-to workforce planning solution, rather than a temporary means to cover shortfalls in permanent positions. Alongside this, they are recognising that the use of contractors can bring greater cost savings in the long term and flexible work flow options, which will be vital in 2016 and beyond.”

Despite an overwhelmingly positive response to contractors, concerns about loyalty and security persist across the globe. In all markets, reasons for not employing contractors included: The perception that it will take too long to train them (45 percent). Confidentiality or privacy concerns (38 percent). A belief that it would be difficult to establish a relationship with them (36 percent). Smith continues: “The traditional make-up of the ‘IT department’ is going through a period of unprecedented change. This is being driven in part by the perception among business leaders that IT has the potential to be a strategic agent of change rather the operational cost centre it was once seen as. An increase in the use of contractors plays a major part in this transformation as businesses demand higher levels of productivity and improved outcomes.

“In the UK, we are seeing that this workforce composition works particularly well, and is a well-established solution for the growing talent shortage. Traditional resourcing models are not sustainable for transformational tech teams today and IT leaders must innovate to re-think their teams, accommodate new ways of working, or risk project failure. The UK is also fortunate to have more flexibility around the contingent workforce and laws surrounding that, which could explain why we are seeing higher usage in our own country.”

To coincide with the launch of this research, Experis has provided its top three predictions about contractor hiring for the year ahead: Rise of the first-jobber bypassing traditional routes into employment – As ambitious and talented millennials face tough job prospects, we may see an increase in the number of university and college leavers fast-tracking their careers straight into contracting roles. This enables them to take immediate advantage of the flexibility and competitive salaries this type of employment has to offer.

Highly-skilled baby boomers to take advantage of the buoyant market for longer- it’s possible that we’ll see an increase in the number of baby boomers becoming contractors, working past retirement age. Not only does this make use of their specialist and much in-demand legacy skills, they can choose to stay engaged in the workforce on a semi-permanent, flexible basis.

Shift in employer mind-set- as technology evolves and attitudes to work change, employers too need to adapt the ways in which they attract and retain top talent. Nowadays, companies cannot rely solely on their brand name to attract contractors, as they face increasing competition from start-ups. Employers will need to change the way they manage communicate and engage with their contingent workforce.

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