The Evolving Face of the Contractor Industry

by Procorre on March 21, 2015

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An evolving and dynamic society has led to a significant increase in the ratio of temporary and contract workers to the rest of the employed population according to research by professional services consulting firm Procorre. This growth has been maintained in recent years, even as the contributory effects of the 2008 recession have waned. This growth also points to the sustainability of the concept, once thought by many to be merely a reaction to difficult economic times.If we look at the ratio of those in temporary or contract employment against those in full-time employment and compare the growth rate, we see that in 2008 the number of full-time employees was 18.9 million. This had only risen slightly by the spring of 2014, with a growth rate of only 0.3%. We can compare that to the growth in the number of temporary and contract workers over that same period. These figures increased from 1.3 million to 1.67 million and by sharp contrast a 20% growth rate.Indeed, although only one in 20 people on average in the United Kingdom can be classified as a temporary worker or a contractor a recent survey of more than 4000 adults revealed that 36% had at one time in their life worked in this capacity. Interestingly, 57% of those are female.

Looking more specifically at contractors 10% of the UK population have worked in this capacity at some stage. Here, however 66% are male and only 34% female. There’s an even spread across age groups, although there is a larger prevalence in the over 55 category, where 30% of contractors may be found.

It’s interesting to analyse the spread according to Job category among contractors. 38% of the total is made up by those who are in managerial, administrative or professional roles at the intermediate or high-level. Approximately 2/3 of those are male, with one third female. In supervisory, clerical or junior managerial, administrative and professional roles we find 20% of contractors, with a similar split between female and male. Skilled manual workers account for 16% and these are predominantly male, while semiskilled and unskilled manual workers account for the balance of 15%, split one third to 2/3 in favour of the male.

Taking a look at engagement levels among contractors we see that 66% of people work more than 30 hours per week and are classified as full-time, while 49% have a permanent contract, 11% are temporary and 15% are categorised as self-employed.

What motivates somebody to become a contractor? While at one-time motivation may have been in plentiful supply as a consequence of the economic downturn and the difficulty finding full-time employment, contractors are more likely to provide a more positive and upbeat reason these days. For example, 12% believe that they can earn more money as a contractor than they would be able to in a permanent role and this feeling was even more prevalent in those who earn more than £50,000 per year, where 29% feel this way. Many believe that self-employment is the only way to achieve career independence and career progression. Some will say that the tax rules are a lot more beneficial and contracting allows you to branch out and acquire additional skills to make your CV a lot more rounded.

Flexibility is another reason cited by the contractor. One in four of those surveyed noted that the ability to earn money or work quickly was a significant reason for their choice of approach. One in seven of those surveyed stated that they had chosen the world of the contractor in order for them to gain valuable experience in a new area of work.

It’s important for some contractors to be flexible when it comes to the number of hours they work each week, or the makeup of their working day. In particular, women who have to look after children generally really like the idea of flexible hours.

Many choose to work independently, rather than for one organisation and can do so very effectively as a contractor. Notably, one in five cited this as the primary reason among the higher contract earners.

It’s not surprising to see these trends when we look at significant changes taking place in the labour market as a whole. Companies are continuing to consolidate even though the economy has improved considerably. In many instances work is now being commoditised and treated as project-based. The workforce is becoming more mobile and if this trend continues individuals will demand more and more freedom. Therefore we can expect contract work to become an even greater percentage of the overall volume of work available in the UK in the years ahead.

When you consider that one in 10 adults in the UK have worked as a contractor at some stage in their life the seeds for growth are clear. The ability to acquire new skills, achieve higher levels of income and schedule work around other important areas of their life are strong drivers.

Whilst some would argue that the role of contractor carries with it a higher element of insecurity, the rewards in general far outweigh the stresses. In particular for those skilled individuals with qualifications in areas such as engineering or IT working as a contractor puts them in high demand.
Procorre
A professional consultancy working with the best consultants on projects in over 100 countries; providing expert guidance, industry, location and expat news
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