Temp Workers Remain An IT Hiring Favorite
August 15, 2011 Dan Burger
The IT job market continues to favor the temporary worker over the full-time employee, a trend that is most often tied to the weak economy, but may also signal a trend that will not reverse itself even after the economy picks up some long overdue momentum. Based on a quarterly survey of IT leaders, four out of 10 IT managers and executives expect to increase IT staffing using temporary workers during the next three months.
“Continued economic uncertainty makes contract workers more appealing,” says TEKsystems market research manager, Tania Lavin. “IT leaders would rather hire consultants on a project-to-project basis than ramp up full-time teams without specific initiatives in mind.” TEKsystems is a large technology staffing and services company with offices throughout the United States. It is headquartered in Hanover, Maryland.
The latest employment survey done by TEKsystems is based on data collected in June from almost 3,000 IT leaders. It shows a 4 percent bump in plans to hire temporary workers and a 3 percent decline in those who plan to increase permanent IT headcount in Q3. Despite the downturn in plans to hire full-time permanent employees, the survey still points out that 38 percent of the IT leaders surveyed believe they will increase permanent IT staffing in the upcoming quarter.
Because companies often replenish staff by adding temporary workers before full-time employees, some employment experts see these recent developments as an indication of more full-time hiring to come. It’s also noted that temporary jobs have a track record of developing into full-time positions for those who demonstrate their capabilities and the value they bring to the company.
However, there’s plenty of data to support the idea that big changes are in store for the workplace. For instance, there are already 8.4 million involuntary part-time workers in the United States, according to the July unemployment data, which we covered last week. Those are people who are working part-time but want a full-time job.
Not exactly great news, but it’s better than two other scenarios I can think of: hiring freezes and more layoffs.
There’s also a recently released report by the McKinsey Global Institute that shows more than half of the companies surveyed expect to rely more heavily on temporary, part-time, and contract workers for a variety of duties. This isn’t IT specific, but it falls right in line with the trend that shows up in the TEKsystems survey and the July unemployment data. The McKinsey report goes further in noting changes in the working world that are expected in the coming five years. It specifically predicts increases in telecommuting, outsourcing, and an older workforce demographic. Each of these doesn’t automatically lead to more part-time or temporary full-time workers, but it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see things going in that direction.
A year ago, I wrote an article titled “Increase in IT Jobs Led by Contract Worker Demands.” It made the point that although hiring in the IT sector was improving slightly, companies hiring temporary contract workers to handle the backlog of IT projects created by recessionary times played a role in that increase.
“Companies are embracing the move from fixed to variable costs in workers,” John Reed, a district president at tech recruitment firm Robert Half Technology, said in July 2010. “There is a significant model that shows the benefits. A full-time employee has salary and benefits and other things. Companies are looking at the number of full-time employees it takes to manage an average workload. Anything beyond that is going to be supplemented with contract staff. The variable cost model takes into account only paying for people when the company needs them. When the need passes, the cost of adding the staff will go down when the staff is cut. It allows more control of costs.”
That pretty much describes the current situation as well.
The future? It looks like more of the same.
The skills that could be your best opportunity to land full-time employment mirror what was noted a year ago as well.
Enterprise architects, cloud architects security specialists and business intelligence specialists are finding more opportunities than most job seekers.
“They are recruited and get their choice of challenging work and appealing compensation packages,” according to TEKsystems’ Lavin. “It is not surprising that BI specialists are more difficult to find this year, as the number of business intelligence initiatives across our client base is up, which correlates to high demand for a finite number of A-players.”
The TEKsystems’ survey also revealed that financial services firms are struggling to fill database administrator positions, while companies in other industries are searching for systems administrators, business process engineers, network architects, and .NET developers.
“IT firms have a greater need for technology professionals to satisfy requirements for internal IT operations as well as specialists for their customers. As IT companies and their clients focus on BI and network transformation, the need for resources multiplies, compounding the difficulty in finding the right individuals,” Lavin said.