UK contractors prefer security over big pay

Survey reveals longer, lesser-paid contracts preferable

British IT contractors are pushing for longer term work, even at the expense of pay, according to recent research.

As the recession tightens its grip on the job market, 62% of contractors would accept a longer contract instead of more pay per hour, according to research by Giant Group, which provides services to recruiters and contractors.

With the vast majority of contractors surveyed — 84% — spending up to a month out of work between contracts, only 38% said they would prefer more pay over a longer contract duration.

Contractors are also counting on the public sector to provide work. One third believe the public sector would offer job opportunities in a difficult time, more than twice the amount who said so in a similar survey in 2003. The public sector was seen as often less volatile than the private sector, and shorter term projects that have already been allocated budgets would still be likely to go ahead. The number of contractors expecting work in the financial sector nearly halved from 2003 to 15%.

Nevertheless, long term joblessness has fallen among contractors. Unemployment among IT contractors is only half of what it was following the dot.com crash, according to Giant. Less than eight percent of contractors were out of work for 90 days or more last year, compared to 13% in 2003.

Matthew Brown, managing director at Giant Group, said contractors were "still concerned about job security", as it isn't clear whether the job market has further to fall. Nevertheless, he says, "recent research indicates that IT spending is unlikely to be as negatively impacted by the downturn as spending in other business areas".

The news comes as it was reported that BT plans to cut its IT contractor rates by up to 30%. The Guardian reported that BT has made about 6,000 contractors redundant over the past few months as part of a plan to cut 10,000 staff.

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