Contracting accounts for bulk of ICT employment: Report

Contracting continues to grow in popularity in the ICT sector, according to a new report, accounting for nearly three quarters of all employment in the industry.


According to the latest SkillsMatch ICT Skills Dashboard, released by the Information Technology Contract & Recruitment Association, contracting has become the norm in the sector.


The report, which measures placements made by ITCRA members on a quarterly basis, reveals contracting now accounts for nearly three quarters of employment data submitted to SkillsMatch.


ITCRA chief executive Julie Mills says the trend is expected to continue, suggesting start-ups who choose not to outsource ICT professionals could have a hard time filling these roles.


“Many ICT workers believe contracting offers them broader opportunities than traditional employment, including flexibility, diverse roles and competitive pay,” Mills says.


ITCRA member Jason Atkinson, who made the switch from permanent employment to contracting about four years ago, believes the benefits far outweigh the risks.


“In my previous, permanent role, I was increasingly frustrated – my company-hired contractors… were doing more diverse work and getting paid more,” Atkinson says.


“While I’ve found there are downsides to being a contractor – such as no holidays or sick pay – the benefits are great. The variety of work and the flexibility suit my lifestyle.”


The ITCRA report also shows a softening in the job market for ICT workers, with a fall in the number of placements and roles being filled more quickly.


According to the report, fewer candidates were placed in roles in the third quarter than at any point this year. There were 581 placements in Q3, compared with 677 in Q2 and 608 in Q1.


Although the time taken to hire candidates has fallen, from 25 working days to 20 since the end of June, the data also pointed to a mismatch of skills in demand, compared to skills available.


“The top two skills employers are looking for – help desk and project management experience – still don’t appear anywhere in the top skills candidates are offering,” Mills says.


There was an average of six suitable candidates for each role advertised by ITCRA members in the third quarter of 2011.


In the third quarter of 2010, there was an average of nine suitable candidates per role, indicating there are less suitable candidates actively looking for work, which is bad news for employers.


“There is increasing competition… The smaller number of candidates and hires, together with skills mismatches, means it’s all about workforce quality rather than quantity,” Mills says.


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