UK a leader in the use of IT contractors

Over three quarters (76 per cent) of UK businesses make extensive use of IT contract workers, higher than the international average according to a new study from 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 per cent), Japan (65 per cent), and Germany (40 per cent).

Yet many of the countries currently lagging behind do have intentions to accelerate their usage. Respondents in the US (19 per cent) and Australia (17 per cent) 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 per cent), Brazil (39 per cent) and China (37 per cent). Germany, on the other hand, is consistently at the low end of current contractor usage and just 8 per cent of German organisations are inclined to increase use in the future.

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 per cent)

Confidentiality or privacy concerns (38 per cent)

A belief that it would be difficult to establish a relationship with them (36 per cent).

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.