UK one of global leaders in use of IT contractors

An international study has positioned the UK as one of the top five countries for IT contractor use, as others, such as the US and China, make plans to follow suit.

Over three quarters (76%) of UK businesses make extensive use of IT contract workers – higher than the international average according to research conducted by Experis, the UK and Ireland’s leading IT resourcing specialist.

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. More UK businesses are currently using contractors than some of the world’s most advanced markets, including the US (66%), Japan (65%), and Germany (40%).

Looking to the future, however, many of the countries currently lagging behind do have intentions to accelerate their usage. 19% of respondents in the US and 17% in Australia expressed 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 future usage, including India (50%), Brazil (39%) and China (37%).

Germany, on the other hand, is consistently at the low end of current contractor usage, and only 7% of German organisations expressed the desire to increase use in the future.

Geoff Smith, Managing Director of Experis Europe, commented: “As the gap between employer demand and available talent continues to widen, more UK organisations are using contractors as a go-to workforce planning solution, rather than a temporary means to cover shortfalls in permanent positions. Among other benefits, the recognition exists that the use of contractors can bring greater long-term cost savings and flexible work flow options.”

Despite an overwhelmingly positive response to contractors, concerns about loyalty and security persist across the globe. In all markets, reasons expressed for not employing contractors included:

  • The perception that it will take too long to train them (45%)
  • Confidentiality or privacy concerns (38%)
  • A belief that it would be difficult to establish a relationship with them (36%).

Geoff continued: “The traditional make-up of the ‘IT department’ is going through a period of unprecedented change. Business leaders are increasingly seeing the potential that IT has to be a strategic agent of change rather than simply an operational cost centre.

An increase in the use of contractors plays a major part in this transformation as businesses demand higher levels of productivity and improved outcomes.”

Geoff concluded: “This workforce composition works particularly well in the UK, and is a well-established solution for the growing talent shortage. Traditional resourcing models are not sustainable for transformational tech teams today and IT leaders must innovate to rethink their teams, accommodate new ways of working, or risk project failure. The UK is also fortunate to have more flexibility around the contingent workforce and laws surrounding that, which could explain why we are seeing higher usage in our own country.”

The international research complemented Experis’ Tech Cities Job Watch report that found that the number of IT contract roles offered in the UK has increased by 10% since the start of 2015.