Contracting isn’t for everyone, but with the evolving nature of the technology workforce, there are opportunities awaiting those looking for a challenge.
Technology employment is centred on freedom. From the range of roles in regular employment, to the wide-open startup market, IT professionals are free to craft their own destinies in the industry.
On top of these options, there’s another that’s becoming increasingly popular for people looking to advance their IT career. Contracting is giving Australian technology workers the freedom to work a variety of roles in companies across the country and around the world.
There are a number of advantages to this method of employment for both candidates and organisations, but how is this changing the state of the IT industry and what does the future hold?
What does this mean for the tech industry?
The rising popularity of contracting as an employment option means that the industry has greater access to flexible and mobile workers that can be hired on a project-by-project basis. According to the Independent Contractors Australia (ICA), there are just under a million of these people spread throughout various industries around Australia.
Adding to this, the ICA discovered that contractors have the most noticeable influence on private sector employment, where they account for just under a third (28 per cent) of all current employees. In comparison, they only make up around 17 per cent of the country’s total workforce.
So far, employers are responding to these trends, and are expecting to make further use of contractors as the IT job market continues to evolve. The Workforce 2020 report produced by Oxford Economics confirmed this, with 41 per cent firms indicating their dependence on contingent labour is growing.
In the same report, just over a fifth (21 per cent) of responding firms said the availability of employees (or lack thereof) is a challenge when it comes to building their ideal workforce. Contracting can help them overcome these issues, especially as the number of able contractors in the job market continues to grow.
Will technology remain a hotbed for contracting?
While some have worried about the impact of technology on jobs over the years as new industries rise and fall, recent research from Deloitte discovered that new innovations actually create new roles.
Although it has had a negative impact on a few select industries, in the last 144 years technology has continued to foster innovation. Not only is it opening up new employment opportunities, they’re of a higher quality as well, with the study reporting there has been a decrease in the number of “dull, repetitive and dangerous” jobs.
In particular, the number of knowledge-intensive jobs has risen over this time span, with sectors such as medicine and professional services benefiting from the influence on these developments.
The study also points out that of the top 10 fastest growing sectors in the UK, two of them are based in the technology industry. The number of information technology managers, programmers and software developers in the workforce has risen drastically, indicating where the demand for contractors is likely to come from.
How to be successful in IT contracting
Based on the above evidence, the drive for competent IT employees is showing no signs of slowing down, indicating the industry is a stable choice for recent graduates to target.
For some employees, contracting will be the best way to make use of these developments, offering a greater degree of flexibility and increased opportunities to try new roles in a range of companies.
However, for people new to this type of employment, there’s a number of things to keep in mind to ensure both you and your employer are getting the most out of the relationship.
As with all job application processes, it’s important to do your research before putting yourself on the marketplace. It’s essential to be aware of the skills that are currently in demand throughout the industry and how well you can meet them.
The earlier you discover these demands the better, especially if you’re still studying and have the opportunity to refocus your skills.
On top of this, the where is just as important – if not more so – than the what and the why. The flexibility inherent in contracting is not limited just to the type of roles you can work or the companies you can commit to, but also the locations where you could work.
The global nature of the IT workforce opens plenty of doors for contractors, who may be able to use their skills to tour the world working on contracts in a number of locations.
It’s also important to be outgoing and have strong communication skills to make the onboarding process as simple as possible. Accepting contract work means you’ll be moving around a lot. If not between countries, then definitely throughout different teams in a range of organisations.
Contracting isn’t for everyone, but with the evolving nature of the technology workforce, there’s a range of opportunities awaiting those looking for a challenge.