Pay rates are generally stable in the contracting space, but there are areas where high demand is pushing rates upwards, says Tony Wai, managing director of specialist contractor recruitment firm Crackerjacks.
“There is a big demand for SharePoint skills and project-type work,” Wai says.
“SharePoint is an area where there has been a big lift – a number of companies have been implementing SharePoint portals, placing a premium on these contractors’ expertise.”
There is also demand for contractors with open-source skills.
“There are a few open source-type roles available, such as programming in Ruby and other open source languages. Organisations are keeping costs down by deploying open source technologies.”
Project management is another area where contractors are in demand.
“There’s a demand for good project managers to lead some of these projects.
“The market is changing to one where companies are working through projects, as opposed to taking on full-time staff.
“Companies are hiring contractors for specific projects.”
There are two aspects to this trend, Wai says.
“First, the economy goes through a period of reducing costs and companies look at IT to do so.
Second, the improving economy means more projects get the go-ahead, he says.
“We are at the point now where there are projects on the go to optimise costs, but which won’t necessarily equate to ongoing work until the economy improves.”
For some skill sets, such as test engineers and helpdesk support, contractor rates have dropped, Wai says.
“It is the project-oriented roles where the demand is, for general IT roles focused on project delivery.”
In Crackerjacks’ latest six-monthly survey of contractors, conducted last month, the average hourly rate expectation for IT contractors was $71 an hour, slightly down on the $72 per hour recorded in the previous survey, in March.
Commentary accompanying Crackerjacks’ announcement of the survey results cites the example of a technical consultant contractor who is quoted as saying: “Rates have not varied widely over the past 12 months, however the available workload has.
“About 12 to 18 months ago the work really dried up, which caused a number of contractors to jump into permanent work to secure their income streams
“But the work is now coming back on line – and at a fast rate.
“There are not as many contractors on the ground as there were pre-recession, so we are finding we can actually lift our rates, in some cases, because of the lack of contractors around.
“For some new clients, we are starting to charge higher rates than what were charged pre-recession,” the contractor wrote.