Tag Archive | "it contractor"

Contractor Plans Legal Fight Against IR35 Reforms

An IT contractor has taken the bold step of planning to take on the government and their IR35 reforms in a legal battle.

As you can no doubt imagine, this type of thing isn’t going to be cheap and that is why he is looking for donations to make it all happen. The cost of full legal action is expected to be around £360,000. Not exactly small change is it.

I’ve reported before about these IR35 changes of course, which came into force during April for contractors within the public sector and has mostly been unpopular.

In fact, some IT divisions within the public sector have seen thousands of contractors walk out once their contract was up, with many more planning to do the same once they get the chance.

Would a U-turn by the government on IR35 change contractors minds? It very well could, but I think many are probably doing just fine out there away from the public sector, maybe even making more money.

As I’ve spoke about in another blog post, contractors and their skills are more in demand than ever before, with many companies willing to pay top cash for those who want to put in the hours.

I’m sure there would be some who might consider a return to the public sector though, because the work is quite steady and predictable, which gives a bit of reliable income.

This legal challenge has got to make it into a court of law, and with over quarter of a million pounds needing to be raised it does make me wonder if we are going to see anything happen? Let’s wait to find out.

You don’t need to send any donations just yet, as the IT contractor has mentioned that any potential supporters should email and say how much they could donate on a monthly basis. £20 a month has been talked about.

The one thing I do know is that the government very often do change their mind. Just take the “making tax digital” plans as an example, where for months it seemed to be at the top of their to do list.

It now appears the plans for making tax digital has been scrapped, after a lot of hard work and millions of pounds spent, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if one day some government official decided that IR35 should also be scrapped.

What can you do though? Most contractors will simply get on with their life and make the best of anything that comes their way. If the public sector is no longer viable then they look elsewhere, and if the public sector starts to seem more attractive again then I’m sure many will be back.

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Can we replace oil and gas with pixels and explosions?

This bloke Chris van der Kuyl says that the moribund oil and gas industry should be replaced by game development, and it will save Scottish contractors.

Is it true? The IT entrepreneur seems to think so, considering how he spoke to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee about it recently. In fact, according to van der Kuyl the ability of the gaming industry to support local freelancers, contractors, and umbrella company contractors is astronomical. His proof? The “Grand Theft Auto” franchise (GTA), a game series that has spent some time in development in Scotland, has generated so much revenue that it’s actually eclipsed the amount of money the entire recorded music industry has ever made. In other words, van der Kuyl says it’s big business.

The programmer does have the qualifications to talk about this subject, it turns out – he’s the chair of 4J Games, a company that’s been highly praised for porting the ultra-popular “Minecraft” game – something exclusive to computers – to video game consoles in order to expose the game to a wider range of consumers. Minecraft has been raking in money hand-over-fist (not as much as GTA, but still a massive amount of dosh), so if you ask me it does seem like the potential is there to become a massive economic boon for not just Scotland but for the entirety of the UK.

What this also means is that the project-based development cycle of the video game industry is one that is ideal for freelance work. Skilled programmers and IT contractors commonly come on board for six months to a year – sometimes longer – and work to develop a game so it can ship complete and on time before going on to the next project, and this could be a serious boon to local umbrella company contractors looking for a leg up in the industry, don’t you think?

Meanwhile, the Government has already earmarked some £4 million for game company development in the UK, though it hasn’t exactly said where it’s going to be spreading that wealth around. Individuals like van der Kuyl are obviously campaigning quite hard to get a piece of that pie, and with any luck maybe they’ll get it. Scotland in particular could make do with some better broadband infrastructure, as not everywhere is particularly well-suited for the kind of high levels of connectivity a development studio would need in order to remain competitive; if even a portion of that cash can go into building that telecommunications infrastructure – something that will drive project-based jobs in and of itself – the idea of Scotland becoming a hub for IT contractor activity isn’t that far-fetched at all if you ask me.

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Demand streaks higher for contractors in November, REC says

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation says that demand rates have streaked ever higher for contractors and freelancers last month.

The REC came out with yet another one of its monthly job reports, discovering that when it came to growth rates for temporary and interim billings for freelance personnel and umbrella company contractors, there was significant growth when compared to October’s figures. While it’s not like there was no demand for interim workers at all in October – demand was high even then – it was recorded as being even higher in November, good news for any contract workers looking for a job.

So far the big winners were IT workers, who were awarded an index figure of 63.3 for the month. While that sounds like nothing in particular out of context, it’s not bad at all: the REC says that a score of anything over 50 indicates growth, so it’s obviously working along at a fine clip. However, it looks like the lead IT contractors have been enjoying lately in the top spot is being whittled away slowly but surely; IT workers had a 65.5 index rating in October and a 66.2 rating in September, indicating that the market is slowly easing off for them.

Still, growth is growth, and with the majority of the different market sectors performing quite well it’s good to know that the economy seems to be firing on all cylinders. Now, I’m not as fully qualified an expert on market growth like those REC boffins are, but for what it’s worth I’m willing to bet that when December’s figures come round it’ll indicate even more growth, mostly on the back of the run up to the holiday season. I suppose this means that the retail sector will receive the biggest bump, but I’m sure there will be a knock-on effect across other markets as well.

Don’t ask me about how January is going to fare, though. If anything I’d expect a bit of a drop off in demand as most firms need a bit of breathing room after the Christmas season to re-assess and regroup; many retail outfits usually cut back their interim staff at this time as well, so expect those numbers to drop rather precipitously. Still, growth is up for the year and I’ll wager that even with a small correction in January that 2015 will feature more of the same.

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Financial sector contractors suffering like sick dogs

If you’re a freelancer or an umbrella company contractor working in the financial sector, you probably know this already: your days are numbered.

Now for the most part, most freelance workers are enjoying high levels of demand for their services. This makes a lot of sense, what with the heavy use British firms need for interim workers in order to keep profitable – but the truth is there are some sectors that aren’t nearly as competitive as others. In fact there are some industries that are falling far behind the prevailing wage, which could have contract workers leaving in droves for more competitive projects, and this is exactly what’s happening in  financial sector right now.

When it comes to jobs in the financial market, the first to feel the pain is likely to be information technology professionals. There are predictions that the financial sector will slip here first, triggering a mass exodus of skilled and qualified IT contractors as they go looking for more competitive rates. This isn’t some new doomsday scenario that’s just been thought up, either – a recent interview with an executive from the Professional Contractors Group pointed out that the public sector saw just this problem occur already.

Of course, like the public sector the financial industry is also doing nothing more than shooting themselves int he foot if you ask me. Banking institutions think they’ll be able to save money by driving out experienced contractors and instead attract ones willing to work for less, but the bare truth of it is that no one accepts a lower-paying job out of the goodness of their heart; it’s because they don’t have the requisite skills and experience yet. Essentially what’s going to happen is that all these excellent and highly skilled contractors that the financial sector is driving out will be replaced with much less skilled workers – if the positions are filled at all.

So there you have it: the latest bit of stupidity from the financial markets. This isn’t terribly surprising to me; after all these are the same pillocks who destroyed the economy back in 2008 and then awarded themselves massive bonuses as the world markets collapsed. Must be good work if you can get it! Bastards.

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London tech sector expansion brings more IT opportunities

With Tech City growing by leaps and bounds, IT contractors in the capital are bracing for a serious increase in levels of demand for their services.

London’s tech sector has been one of the global hot spots for information technology for years now, and it’s widely thought that it’s helping to drive the vast growth of tech firms in the UK over the past three years. In fact, there are twice as many British digital technology companies than there were just a few years ago – bringing with them more than half a million new positions –  and Tech City is absolutely the epicentre.

Now, the writing on the wall says that Tech City is going to be expanding like mad throughout 2014. This is a fantastic bit of news for anyone who’s interested in the UK’s supremacy as an information technology powerhouse, and it goes double for those of us with our ears down to the ground when it comes to the economic recovery (or lack thereof in some cases). However, there is one problem with the expansion of Tech City, and it’s the same problem that the whole country is facing: the skills shortage. There’s decidedly fewer skilled and qualified permanent workers to go around for all the job vacancies there are at the moment, and this could lead to some rather promising growth opportunities possibly cut short – and this could have a chilling effect not just on Tech City but on the entire economy in general.

Luckily there are a large number of highly experienced IT contractors specialising in per-project work that would be happy to take on new contracts for the New Year. Freelancers and umbrella company contractors are highly flexible and usually quite good at what they do, considering it takes a keen mind and a dedication to providing high-quality solutions for clients if you want to be a successful contractor. Contracting can help fill the gaps left by the skills shortage, especially since it’s ravaging the number of permanent workers that are available to fill these roles.

Contracting is of course a stop-gap measure at best, but it’s much better than letting the tech industry fall flat on its face. Hopefully the time that contractors will buy the industry will enable more permanent employees to enter the workforce! I certainly think it’s something that can be accomplished, don’t you?

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Contractors with cloud computing needed badly?

Contractors in the information technology field are always in demand, but research has found IT contractors with cloud computing skills are especially needed.

IT contractors have been living the high life for some time now, thanks to the rapid progression of technology and the role it plays in the global marketplace. There’s more than one type of IT professional though – and now new research data from Robert Half Technology has revealed which subsectors of the information technology field are particularly lucrative, thanks to the high levels of demand for specific expertise – and cloud computing is hotter than ever.

Almost 40 per cent of British IT directors said that there’s no more valuable skill than cloud computing right now when it comes to freelancers or umbrella company contractors working in the industry. There’s wide adoption of cloud computing across all industries, as more than 4 out of every 5 companies have a cloud initiative – and this is only going to grow as more industries join the 21st century.

I tell you this is good news for anyone working in the IT field, not just those with experience in cloud computing. Employers are likely to begin hiring shedloads more IT workers as demand continues to grow, which is a fantastic indication that the economy is beginning to hum along quite nicely once more. Economic recovery means good news for anyone looking for work, whether it be a permanent position or a contract billing, so even if it’s just cloud computing that’s spearheading the charge into increased hiring it’s going to bring with it plenty of more opportunities for general IT contracting work.

Let’s not forget that there’s likely to be a knock-on effect from all these IT workers landing bigger and more lucrative projects. These workers will then be earning more money, which means they’ll have some more disposable income – and that means a percentage of what they’ve earned will be feeding back into the economy as they purchase more goods and services than they would have prior to the increase in their job prospects. This will provide more revenue for all sorts of firms, which can then expand – and more importantly, pay their employees more – and the cycle builds and builds until we’re back in a much better economic position than we were beforehand. It’s basic economics, and it’s going to help the entire UK population live better, more fulfilled lives. Isn’t that grand?

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New banking regs to lead to increased IT contractor demand?

Chaos theory says that a butterfly flaps its wings can lead to changes across the globe. In the same way, new banking regulations lead to IT contract positions.

It seems odd to think that EU rules that are aimed towards rooting out fraud in the financial services industry is going to lead to new opportunities for IT contractors, but it’s true – or at least that’s what the International Data Corporation says. IDC is convinced that all the new rules banks in the UK and across the world will have to comply with will lead to infrastructure upgrades that will cost some £130 billion or so over the next 12 months.

Now I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Still, the IDC is confident that banks and other lenders will have to implement major changes to many of their internal systems in order to provide better oversight into the bank’s activities – part of new compliance rules slated to come into effect next year in an effort to curb the kinds of chicanery that’s been going on in the banking industry.

Honestly I’m all for the financial services industry to pay its dues in this way. All these new technologies that need implementation will act like a magnet for umbrella company workers and IT freelancers, keeping the industry supercharged with plenty of projects and leaving interim workers with the proper skills and experience busier than they’ve likely been in years – and with the IT industry so robust, that’s rather busy indeed!

In addition, it’s about time that the hammer has come down on banking institutions. There’s too much back-room dealing going on over the past few years, especially since the main reason for the long-lasting economic downturn lies squarely on the shoulders of the banks that were supposedly ‘too big to fail’ – and that got massive taxpayer buyouts. The sheer arrogance of these mad bastards, with their hefty executive bonuses and Libor scandals just boils my blood so I’m all for some closer oversight on their antics.

Well, here’s hoping the banking industry’s loss is the IT contracting community’s gain. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, but I do have the feeling that things will go well for those in the IT field.

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Here comes the consequences of the skills shortage

Well here we go lads: the verdict is in, and the skills shortage is official. But the problem is, what happens next?

The worst has come to pass: a recent survey found that 6 out of every 10 employers are convinced that there is a very serious skills shortage, and the fallout has already started. In fact, many of these same firms also said that they would begin looking overseas to fill important roles instead of employing local Brits, all because the type of graduates the UK education system is churning out right now lack the requisite training to excel in the current economic marketplace.

So what does this mean for sole traders like umbrella company contractors and freelancers? Well, interim workers are likely to be affected by this as much as permanent workers – if British firms are turning their attention outside of the UK to fill vacancies, it’s going to be harder to compete against the sudden influx of new talent. Considering that foreign employees may be willing to work for less, this kind of uneven playing field could absolutely spoil it for British workers desperate to find and keep a job; if you’ve got two identical freelancers with the same expertise and experience and one is willing to work for peanuts, the other is never going to find another client again.

That’s an exaggeration of course, but it’s still a very real possibility. Of course the kinds of skills in the most need right now – most often the kinds of things that only a trained IT contractor would know – are still quite rare, even overseas. This means that IT contractors are in a slightly better boat than the rest of the UK workforce, but just because it’s not taking on water as fast as the others doesn’t mean that it won’t sink too in time.

For what it’s worth, what we really need to do is overhaul or educational system before it’s too late! There are too many Brits out there still struggling, even with the economy beginning to turn around, and we have a moral and ethical obligation to lift ourselves up before we go around lifting up others. Let’s hope there’s something that can be done about all this before it’s too late, eh?

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IT workers and engineers lead demand in Scotland

If you’re an IT professional or if you work in the construction industry as an engineering contractor, Scotland is the place to be.

At least, that’s what the Bank of Scotland recently reported, after it conducted a research study that found companies in the north were positively champing at the bit to bring new IT contractors or engineering and construction specialists into the fold. The skills shortage is in full swing in Scotland, with the bank discovering that growth rates have begun to drop off as of last month, resulting in below-average figures for more than one employment sector.

The construction and engineering sectors are most definitely hurting for skilled and qualified workers, as vacancies in these industries have hit an almost two and a half year high. In a way this is good news – for what it’s worth, it shows that there’s opportunities in the north thanks to the recovering economy, but the problem is that there’s simply not enough workers to go around to meet these levels of demand.

How do you know there’s a shortage in Scotland? Well it’s easy to see: vacancies have shot up but billings have remained the same. It’s obvious that the number of contractors and freelancers working in the north sadly hasn’t changed much, which means that all this opportunity is going a bit to waste.

It’s more than a bit disappointing to think there’s all this fantastic opportunity just waiting to be capitalised upon, but there’s simply not enough in the way of personnel to keep up with this demand. If you ask me, something should be done about this; now I’ve talked about this in the past, and I’ve suggested that initiatives from the public sector could help meet this flagging demand by encouraging more people to go into these highly sought-after fields.

The best way to do this would undoubtedly be to overhaul the educational system in order to provide the skills young graduates will need in order to fill these roles and provide for the needs of the recovering economy. Neglecting to do so could end up simply squandering this fantastic opportunity to continue to grow and recover the economy to something resembling what it was before the credit crisis and resultant recession. Well, we could leave off all that banking mis-management this time around – it might be better in the long run, don’t you reckon?

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Increasing number of contractors saying glass is half-full

Confidence is soaring when it comes to the UK’s IT contractors, or at least if a new report on the subject is to believed.

The mark of an optimist has always been looking at a glass of water and saying that “that’s not half-empty – it’s half-full.” It’s seeing the silver lining instead of the cloud that’s the mark of someone who isn’t always gloomy and quite frankly more than a bit boorish, and it can make your life so much better if you’re an optimist.

Well, there’s a whole class of freelance IT workers and umbrella company contractors that says those working in the information technology field have been developing an incredibly positive mental outlook for years. What’s causing this confidence? Well it’s easy: IT contractors are pulling down work at an amazing rate, with more than 82 per cent of survey respondents indicating that it’s less than a month between the end of one of their assignments and the beginning of the next one.

Is it any wonder if IT contractors in the UK are in such a good mood? Nothing succeeds like success, and they’re succeeding at a masterful level. The speed in which the average contractor pulls down his or her next job is increasing by leaps and bounds, which means there’s more money flowing into the bank accounts of these individuals – and more flowing back out as they purchase goods and services for them, their friends, and their family members.

Yes someone could easily say that contractors are busier than ever now because of the skills shortage gripping the UK, but that’s not exactly taking the optimist’s approach now is it? For what it’s worth, I’d much rather have a glass half-full than half-empty; if there’s a skills shortage we as a collective trade industry will be able to counteract it somehow or another, most likely through a judicious application of funds towards increasing education programmes designed to instill the required skills in younger Brits approaching the age of employment. Conversely we could begin taking on more apprenticeships as well, which would also provide on-the-job training for many Brits just hoping to get their chance to learn these skills as well.

Any way you slice it, I think the future looks bright. We just can’t lose sight of the positive things coming down the pike and we should be just fine, don’t you agree?

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What recession? IT contracting job billings higher than ever

The economy may be in an overall shambles for many people, but freelancers and umbrella company contractors working in the IT field wouldn’t know it.

In fact, new job billings in information technology – a field that has used interim and temporary workers for years and shows no signs of changing that trend – have risen to such highs that the UK’s current economic woes would be barely discernible if you looked at the raw figures. In fact, the number of jobs in the IT field currently looking for skilled and qualified workers has reached levels nearly indistinguishable from 2008 figures.

There’s only a 15 per cent difference between IT professional job billings today and five years ago, and considering how absolutely horrid it’s been from an economic standpoint this is nothing short of remarkable if you ask me. It’s not so easy to forget how rampant wage freezes and job losses nearly crippled the UK economy in the wake of the global credit crisis, so a 15 per cent difference – in the face of such rampant economic disaster – is exemplary in and of itself, for what it’s worth.

Experts say that firms are in a much better position to expand their IT departments and provide additional resources to the rest of their other internal departments by hiring on additional support staff, both permanent workers and contractors alike. According to their research software developers and consultancy firms have undergone the largest amount of growth and have since increased the available It roles by around 1.4 per cent in order to provide greater emphasis on consumer technology development and fulfilling the needs of clients who require IT workers on a per-project basis rather than a permanent working relationship.

It’s heartening to know that there’s plenty of hope for the UK economy, at least where IT contracting is concerned. Yes we’re far from getting through the woods completely, but I think we’re through the last of it provided we don’t have any more horror shows in the EU, which is the main source of instability at the moment – it’s probably a very good thing that the UK stubbornly clung to our own monetary standard instead of transitioning over to the Euro standard, considering how much trouble countries such as Greece would be in if they decided to drop the new currency and return to their own in an attempt to rebuild their own economy.

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Not enough help for contractors in Budget, says REC

The Budget may have some positive things in it to look forward to, but one recruitment industry body says that more could have been done for contract workers.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation spoke out in protest at George Osborne’s new Budget, remarking that the British economy simply won’t see the growth and recovery it so desperately needs unless limited companies, freelancers, and umbrella company workers are given more support. The definition of who is or isn’t ‘self-employed’ should have been overhauled in he Budget to help contract workers better navigate the sometimes Byzantine labyrinth of tax law in the UK, according to REC, and the fact that the incredibly murky guidance on IR35 hasn’t been suitably overhauled, I’m inclined to agree with the REC’s protests.

The guidance for determining if you as a contractor or a freelancer need to ensure you don’t fall under disguised employment rules is incredibly obtuse at the moment, with the current system muddying the waters as to whether or not you need to jump through the hoops of IR35. On top of that, many contractors have said that they have worries about whether they’re filling out their self assessment forms properly – which might be good for the nation’s accountants, but small businesses and freelancers often don’t have the room in their own budgets to pay for accountancy services if they can’t help it.

The REC also said that it had serious concerns about the state of the information technology sector as well, in particular the fact that there seems to be a serious shortage of qualified IT contractors working in the UK. On top of that, the types of positions being offered to IT professionals are often calling for skill sets that currently don’t exist in high enough numbers, which creates the paradoxical situation of there being both not enough positions open and too few at the same time – it’s a bit mind-boggling but it starts to make sense if you squint and tilt your head to the side for a few moments.

The REC would like to see more IT sector support, and I can’t blame them in the least. Depending on how the Government could possibly go about doing so – perhaps by offering tax breaks to firms that engage in training IT staff with the skills they are lacking at the moment – there could be some room for growth in this area, but the jury’s currently out on whether there’ll be any help from the public sector towards increasing IT contracting opportunities.

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IT contracting opportunities lagging behind 2012 figures

While the recruitment market for freelancers and umbrella contractors is still relatively strong, new research has found that IT contracting positions are down.

2012 was a much better year for IT contractors, according to umbrella company Giant, which found that this year has seen opportunities drop off by nearly half. Giant said that the ailing health of the IT contracting sector is most likely due to the fact that this time last year saw demand ramping up in a major way due to the requirements placed upon UK infratructure by the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

However, it wasn’t all bad news, as the Giant survey also found that public sector and financial services contractors were experiencing a heightened demand year-on-year as the focus shifted away from short-term projects meant to support the Summer Games and back towards longer term opportunities instead. Giant’s managing director, Matthew Brown, confirmed this by remarking that the IT and retail contracting opportunities brought forth by the Olympics and the Paralympics last year did indeed provide excellent economic growth in 2012, which drove the demand for IT contracting specialists.

Now that the Summer Games have come and gone, contracting opportunities linked to the 30th Olympiad have dropped off the board, Mr Brown added, remaking that the drop was indeed an expected one. Still, the managing director struck a positive tone in light of the umbrella company’s research findings indicating that public sector and financial services billings were on the increase.

In a way, the impact of regulatory issues and budget constraints on the UK economy has helped to drive contracting even further, thanks to the fact that it’s usually cheaper to use a freelancer than it is to use permanent employees for the same role. Mr Brown said that Giant has the expectation that this trend will continue throughout the coming months, which could help to offset the loss of any contracting opportunities related to the Summer Games.

If you ask me, this was indeed something that was expected, as the type of intense infrastructure requirements holding the Olympics places on a host country over such a short period of time. The nature of both the Summer and Winter Olympics, which flits from country to country every two years, places massive strain on host countries and usually leads to a rather sharp decline in economic prosperity shortly afterwards as everyone packs up and moves back to their home countries in preparation for the next Olympic gathering; in a way it’s almost not worth hosting the Games if it means your economy takes a palpable hit right afterwards – that’s my opinion, anyway!

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IT workers on the lookout for higher job security

A new research study from a professional umbrella service company has revealed that IT contractors are on the lookout for projects with job security.

According to Giant Group, the umbrella company that conducted the research study, a full 64 per cent of those surveyed said they would trade a high hourly rate for the relative security of a log term contract. This figure was 4 percentage points higher than it was just two years ago, indicating that even interim workers would much rather know where their next meal is coming from for the next several months than know that only their next few pay cheques will be higher than usual.

If this wasn’t interesting enough, the number of survey respondents indicating that the most important facet of any particular contract was whether it offered high job security also increased over the past few years. 2011 figures were 7 percentage points lower than this year’s results, as 23 per cent of those surveyed in 2013 said they would rather job security over anything else when it came to which contract they favoured to take.

Giant’s managing director, Matthew Brown, said that he was not surprised in the least by these results, especially since the economy in the UK and throughout the entire eurozone has been shaky and, if you ask me, more than a little frightening. Freelancers and umbrella company contractors may float from one client to another, but longer-term contracts mean less time scrambling for new clients than if you’re taking shorter-term ones, and I don’t know about you but I could use a little peace of mind right now indeed!

Luckily, IT contractors are positioned quite well when it comes to demand for their services. There are currently some serious skills deficits in the UK and on the continent, leading to any skilled and qualified IT worker being able to more or less write his or her own ticket. However, competition can be fierce amongst those looking for a good, long-term contract in order to gain a bit of financial stability, so if you ask me it’s never too early to start networking and looking for the best long-term contract you can get if you an information technology specialist working in the UK.

Of course, IT workers do have another advantage that they aren’t as tied down to geographical limitations as much as other contract workers, thanks to the advent of telecommuting and mobile working. Unless you’re physically installing or upgrading new servers, much of an IT worker’s duties can be done remotely, which meas that it doesn’t matter if your client is across the street or hundreds of miles away – you can still service them effectively.

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Contractors to benefit from new standard IT certification

It’s rare that an idea that has its inception in the eurozone actually affects the UK in a positive manner, but  it looks like there’s an exception to the rule.

The EU recently announced it’s currently tossing about the idea to standardise IT certifications throughout the entire eurozone, which means that every single one of the 27 countries in the EU would all work off the same playbook when it comes to measuring skills for IT workers. What this means for IT contractors and freelance workers in the UK is that a huge world of possibilities have just opened up for more work opportunities, and with the nature of IT working allowing qualified and skilled contractors to work from nearly anywhere with an internet connection this means the entire eurozone could become one massive pool of prospective clients.

The reasoning behind the change is the fact that there’s really an incredibly unsustainable lack of workers with the requisite skills to satisfy demand throughout the EU. Eurozone firms and governments have decided to band together in order to combat this, and standardising certifications across the EU is one of many weapons in the arsenal in order to solve these problems; another tactic currently being employed is, through 2015, to provide investment and advice in order to support any IT worker who looks to relocate to a high demand area; I think that’s a fantastic step but might only result in limited successes with IT workers that have built a life for themselves in their current geographical area, complete with friends, family, and existing business arrangements.

However, there are other programmes currently underway that I think will fare better than providing relocation support, such as the push for employers in fields specialising in digital or emergent technologies to broaden their training programmes in order to provide more IT education access. Governments are doing their part as well in sponsoring awareness campaigns to the fact that the eurozone is in die need of new, young IT professionals to help satisfy runaway demand for anyone who knows their way around a server stack or an SQL database.

This massive shortage is, of course, why freelancers and umbrella company workers that specialise in information technology are so in demand at the moment. Qualified IT professionals can more or less write their own ticket in the current market landscape – or they can on a regional basis, anyhow – and if the EU adopts a standardised certification process, regions and countries with serious shortages of qualified personnel can absolutely benefit from workers from the UK or other EU member states without all the red tape or without hemming and hawing about whether they’ll be appropriate for a firm’s needs.

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The interview process for IT workers is getting a bit absurd

The employment market in the UK isn’t exactly at its best at the moment, but now anyone in the IT sector can look forward to almost absurdly lengthy interviews.

Jobs are scarce, and there’s plenty of competition for all sorts of positions. Nowhere is this more true than in the IT industry, where there’s only so many jobs to go around and employers are looking for the best fit when it comes to a new worker; in fact, with firms looking to keep costs low but still maintain high productivity, I’ve read several stories about how IT contractors are a hot commodity right now.

However, a new research study recently conducted by Randstad Technologies has discovered that the vetting process for IT workers – whether they be applying for an interim role or a permanent position – are being subjected to very rigorous and even exhaustive interview processes. In fact, Randstad says that the average IT worker speds something like 8.2 hours jumping through interview hoops before they’re finally taken on.

I don’t know about you, but this seems a bit extreme to me. It’s gotten much worse over the past few years, as Randstad found that the average round of interviews before securing an IT position in 2008 was 3.7 hours shorter.

It workers make out the worst when it comes to other professionals as well, as the research findings discovered that the recruitment process for other professionals only entails 7 hours of interview or so. That doesn’t sound like much of an improvement, but I’d much rather gain the extra 1.2 hours of my life back so I can watch some Coronation Street in my off hours.

More than 50 per cent of the IT workers, both permanent and interim, said that it was much more difficult to find a new job than it was back in 2008. On top of that, that’s just the interview process itself, which says nothing about all the other non-interview testing and nonsense that you can be subjected to; funnily enough IT workers face fewer time sinks such as those than other jobseekers, which is a bit of a testament to how in-demand IT workers have grown thanks to the growth of technology; on top of that it’s often easier for a contractor to land a lucrative new project than it would be for a permanent worker, as firms tend to offer up temporary work to qualified IT experts in a hurry in order to protect heir bottom line.

It only makes sense, after all: why take on the financial burden of a new permanent employee when you can just contract with a freelancer or umbrella company worker for the length of a project and then cut them loose afterwards?

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