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Demand for IT contractors increases amid business uncertainty

IT contractors in the UK are in increasing demand and are getting longer contracts, as uncertainty around Brexit and a skills shortage open up more possibilities for non-permanent hires

The rising uncertainty among UK businesses as a result of ongoing Brexit discussions is proving beneficial to IT contractors.

According to recent research, more businesses have hired IT contractors in the past six months than the six months prior, and are offering more longer-term contracts.

A survey of 600 IT contractors from SJD Accountancy found almost 9% of businesses hired more IT contractors in the past six months, compared with 3.4% in the six months before.

The survey also found that more IT contractors are getting longer contracts, with more than 31% of IT contractors saying they were getting 12-month contracts, compared with 23.6% in the first half of 2017.

Pay rates changes have also improved, with 23.7% of contractors reporting an increase in their daily rate, compared with 23.3% in the previous six months. Only 19% have had rates reduced, slightly less than the previous half-year period.

According to recent research from Qdos Contactor, which gives tax advice to contractors, 40% of IT freelancers have a day rate above £500, with 8% taking home more than £700 a day.

Derek Kelly, CEO at SJD Accountancy, said Brexit uncertainty could be improving opportunities for IT contractors. “In some respects, lingering uncertainty is likely to favour contractors who are more suited to short-term projects that produce a quick return on investment than permanent hires,” he said.

“We are also starting to see large financial services businesses begin work on technology risk management projects related to Brexit, which is creating demand for contract roles.”

There are also reports of IT professionals from European Union (EU) countries leaving the UK, and of ongoing IT skills shortages, which also open up opportunities to UK-based IT contractors.

Read more about UK IT skills shortages

Sub-sectors of the IT industry, such as artificial intelligence (AI), are in need of more skilled recruits. Since 2014, demand for the software developers and machine learning engineers who create AI software has increased by 485%.

There are now twice as many roles available than there are people to fill them, according to data from job site Indeed, with 2.3 jobs for every qualified candidate in the UK.

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