Computer People: Role of IT contractors changing

Thursday 13 August 2015

The latest quarterly IT Monitor Survey from Computer People has revealed a number of important changes in the way that companies are making use of IT contractors, as well as the impact of higher rates on companies’ attitude to freelancers.

The main difference is the dramatic rise in contractor pay over the past year. As a result, some specialisms are becoming unaffordable for companies to hire on a contracting basis. The group worst affected by this are application analysts, whose average hourly rate went up by 27 per cent between June 2014 and June 2015.

In second place were contractors who took on senior management roles, with an increase of 12 per cent over the same period, followed by tech support, business intelligence and web development.

Commenting on the findings, Computer People’s managing director Roy Dungworth said: “A lack of skilled, available candidates is driving pay rates beyond some companies’ reach. While the demand for contract staff we witnessed during the recession… appears to be dropping off, the IT sector continues to fill immediate gaps in strategic skills.”

The increase in permanent vacancies over the same period seems to be evidence that employers are now feeling confident enough to take on greater numbers of salaried staff.

Mr Dungworth went on: “Further proof of this comes from the steady growth of daily rates, which are currently outperforming advertised permanent salaries.”

Furthermore, the number of vacancies has increased over the 12 months to June, with a net rise of three per cent.

However, the precise state of the IT contracting market varies depending on the region. For example, London saw substantial increases in demand for software engineers, senior management, application analysts, IT security professionals, business intelligence specialists and technical architects.

Contrasting with this, the north west of England saw spikes in demand for software testers, web developers, database developers, business analysts and business intelligence specialists.

However, the ability of IT professionals to work remotely means that it may be possible for individuals to work around a lack of demand for their specialism where they live, but it is still important that they are aware of the demand trends in their region.

Overall, Mr Dungworth felt that this year would represent an improvement on the conditions of 2014, but warned that a lack of certainty in the market could still have a negative impact on industry surveys and other predictive data.

Of course, the traditional falling off in hiring over the summer period may pose an additional challenge to contractors looking for new clients in the immediate future, so the ability to work remotely may be even more valuable in these circumstances.
While the state of IT contracting seems to be in flux to a certain extent, it is likely that the coming months will be crucial in determining the role that freelancers will play in the long-term, given the improving state of the economy. This means that taking figures with a pinch of salt may prove to be beneficial over the next quarter, although it would not be wise to disregard them completely.

By Victoria McDonnell

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