Arrogance of the IT contractors

The pages of Computer Weekly have recently seen a spate of articles and letters from readers debating for and against using...

The pages of Computer Weekly have recently seen a spate of articles and letters from readers debating for and against using offshore outsourcing and cheap foreign labour.

Supported by the Professional Contractors' Group, UK contractors have argued that the UK is being inundated by cheap overseas IT contractors, who they claim are taking their jobs.

This argument could be seen as somewhat arrogant given that the same contractors were up in arms over the IR35 tax regime, with a number of individuals threatening to leave the UK if the tax laws were not changed. I know of a contractor who has spent the past few years working in Zurich and Milan to avoid IR35. Another went further afield, to Sydney.

IT contractors have had a pretty good run. They were well positioned to reap the bounty from Y2K, the dotcom madness and the era of massive ERP and CRM deployments. Today, there is far less money to be made. Y2K was a non-event, dotcoms bombed and complex enterprise software projects are no longer de rigueur.

IT departments have been forced to rethink how they spend their budgets. Internal staff and contractors are being asked to do more for no additional monetary gain.

In today's IT jobs market, people who are flexible and multi-skilled are in a stronger position to gain employment. Rather than hire separate Visual Basic and Oracle programmers, IT managers want people who have experience in programming both. Why go for a systems administrator with Windows skills when the job market is offering people with Windows and Linux experience?

Technology within IT departments is changing. It is becoming a heterogeneous world. If UK contractors cannot provide such skills at a competitive price, IT managers will continue to look elsewhere.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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