Contract Market – Time for growth ?

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The last 2 years have brought difficult times for the IT contractors in financial markets.  The combination of rate cuts of up to 50% for certain roles and the systematic culling of resource as part of cost reduction measures, has made for a pretty miserable time.  But things are clearly changing.

One of the main ( and arguably good ) side effects of the downturn has been a rebalancing of quality within the resource supply.  The IT market over the last 10-15 years, whilst punctuated with the odd “blip”, has been a rich picking ground for contractors.  High quality staff have continued to remain employed, and rightly so.  But there have also been those that would have struggled to survive in other industries where a) the demand to supply gap was not as great and b) the speed of execution was not as tight.  The prolonged nature of the downturn has seen many of these staff leave the industry, move to different market sectors or retrain.

So what does the current situation look and feel like ?  Well, firstly demand from financial services is clearly up.  Belts can only be tightened for so long.  In order to remain competitive, and in some cases more importantly compliant, investment in systems has increased with many companies firmly back in the hiring market.  However, the landscape is very different.

Firstly, individuals are more reticent to just jump ship.  Many have had their “tin hats” on for a while now and, although some would see contractors as predominantly a mercenary lot, the role offered is now more likely to be or greater importance before making a move.

Secondly, employers are looking to get a much closer fit to the role before taking a contractor on, whereas before many staff were engaged having “the majority” of skills required.  Any gaps could easily be filled through bringing on more staff, particularly on a project basis.  Now however, employers are more selective in committing unless the person is absolutely right.

A final important point is flexibility.  Letting permanent staff go through a downturn is both time consuming and emotionally difficult.  The current economic situation is still very much in the balance with predictions of a second recession along with the problems in Greece and possible knock on to other European countries.   No company wants to increase their fixed costs too much in the short term in the event that further cost reductions are required.

All of this has meant that finding the right person for roles is becoming an increasing challenge.  Recruitment firms have also struggled and had to up their game. The future looks bright for quality, experienced consultants as demand for the right people starts to outstrip supply in 2010-05-10

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Posted on : 11-05-2010 | By : jo.rose | In : General News

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