Tapping into transient tech skills for long-term success

The gig economy

Far more workers are working flexible now, creating what is increasingly being called the ‘gig economy’.

This has enabled skilled professionals to sell their skills and employers to buy them in slithers of time (hours or days) rather than committing to months or years.

Consider the average length of time employees spend with each company before moving on – it’s now not at all unusual for a young professional to change employer every couple of years.

In fact, in Experis’ recent Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision report, when asked what the “right” amount of time is to stay in a single role before being promoted or moving to another, about two-thirds of millennials said less than 2 years and a quarter said less than 12 months—confirming their appetite for new challenges and portfolio-style jobs.

While our grandparents, and even some of our parents, may have had a career for life and received a nice watch and a retirement party of the end of their tenure, the rest of us will likely work for several firms over the course of our working life. (Not least as the age of retirement is getting higher and higher!).

While the gig economy is growing across various industries, there is data that highlights how it is especially a dominant feature of the IT and tech sector.

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Experis’ latest Tech Cities Job Watch Survey revealed that average IT contractor day rates (now at £431) have soared by 9.11% over the past year. This is almost double the year-on-year growth in permanent salaries, which increased by 4.61 per cent.

With certain tech skills – big data, mobile, cloud, IT security and web development – in high demand, IT experts know their worth and can demand a premium. And, this trend is only set to increase.

69% of IT managers will become increasingly reliant on temp staff to plug the skills gap and they believe 28% of their workforce needs to be employed on a contingent basis to achieve digital transformation and accelerate growth.

However, the rise of short-term projects available and access to communication channels from anywhere, anytime, also means that tech professionals can quickly and easily pick and choose work when it suits them.

But, this doesn’t mean that all IT professionals want to work from a beach with his or her laptop; more often than not, the gig economy provides more flexibility around where they can work within the UK.

According to the Tech Cities report, London isn’t the only city tapping in to transient tech talent – Newcastle placed 5 times more adverts for contractors in Q2 2016 than the same period of 2015 and Glasgow advertised more than double the amount of contract roles compared to last year.

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At the same time, looking at average contractor day rates on a quarter-by-quarter basis, rates grew by 6.95% and 6.84% in Glasgow and Newcastle respectively, compared to just 0.45% in London.

What can be inferred from this? IT professionals wishing to work on a contractor / part-time or simply more flexible basis are also looking for opportunities to work in other parts of the country. Potentially in cities and towns where rents and house prices are more affordable than in London; where they don’t have a long, crowded commute to work; or can access the countryside within minutes to relax and enjoy their hobbies outside of work.

For some, opportunities to work on an exciting project or challenge or for a recognisable brand in the capital to add to their CV will still be a priority. But, for many it seems that flexibility and having a better work/life balance is growing more important.

So, companies need to think about how they attract and harness this highly specialised yet mobile and fleeting workforce. Part of this requires knowledge of what IT contractors are asking or looking for, but the other part comes down to planning ahead and working closely with a partner that understands the specific requirements and challenges that lie ahead.

Big digital transformation projects in particular often require freelance support and specialist skills to ensure a successful delivery. While there are many channels and alternative workforce solutions available now to find contractors – which have appeared partly due to the gig economy, for example traditional temp assignments from recruiters, crowd sourcing, recruiter, employed consultants and more.

The right workforce provider can help navigate and plan for what talent you need from start to finish. And also know where, when and how to find and attract this (transient) talent.
Sourced by Geoff Smith, MD of Experis UK & Ireland

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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