The last two years have seen some of the roughest seas for contractors and recruiters. Brexit-related uncertainty in 2019, coupled with the impending implementation of IR35 in the private sector a year later, only deepened the swell.
And so, we saw contractors ditch the ship for permanent roles, and things only got worse when the pandemic took hold. Lockdown pushed many businesses into cutting costs, delaying projects, and cutting contractors loose.
Remote working aside, one of the biggest changes to working habits was uncertainty. Over the last 18, businesses have been required to scale their workforces up and down to cope with the turbulent market, technology demand and volatile economy.
And the way to slide flexibility into your business model is by hiring contractors!
As lockdowns eased and confidence returned to the economy, the contractor market bounced back. Those projects businesses mothballed in 2019-20 were pulled out of storage and given new life. And just like that, demand for contractors soared.
At Client Server, we’ve seen a interest in contract work from both clients and technologists alike. Developers are eager to take advantage of businesses who want niche skills. This new demand has been like a steroid injection into the recruitment arm.
Not only have seasoned contractors returned to the fold, but a slew of new names have entered the market as well.
So what’s happened? Why did the mere mention of “IR35” send contractors running for the hills in 2019-20, only for the market to roar back to life?
Generally, a more positive outlook
The biggest impact to the contractor market is the shift in attitude and culture towards flexible working, particularly remote work.
A huge number of contracts now offer either a fully remote or hybrid work offering, allowing contractors to achieve a better work-life balance and access job opportunities outside of their normal geographical search area.
This workforce is proving vital in a candidate-short market, helping clients deliver on project deadlines and providing cover to cope with the peaks and troughs in demand.
Fewer candidates and high-quality CVs
In the months following the first lockdown, there was a massive influx of available or furloughed candidates. This increased demand led to a noticeable shortage of candidates actively applying for roles in the first half of 2021. Experienced contractors tend to have well-polished CVs, a great track record and excellent networking relationships, so finding work is not usually a problem.
The permanent market recovered
Throughout most of 2020 it felt as though the permanent recruitment market had ground to a halt. The sudden swing towards volume hiring again in 2021 has in a strange way massively worked to the advantage of contractors.
Clients struggling with deadlines and overrunning projects were able to bring them in to solve these short-term needs.
Even though permanent recruitment is now at its busiest level, the overall level of demand for talent has increased substantially, and a successful contract market is driving by high levels of hiring demand to fuel it.
That why we remain optimistic and buoyant about the rest of 2022 and the contract market.