1 out of 7 IT staffers are now contractors

Overworked corporate IT departments are using more contract labor to help take on new initiatives. Is this a positive trend?

This tidbit just in from the researchers at Computer Economics: 15% of the IT staffs at large organizations consists of contractors, versus regular salaried employees. This continues a trend that arose last year, part of a four-fold increase in the past two years.

There are three ways to look at this. One, as Computer Economics points out, this jump represents an increase in IT workloads, as already-overworked IT departments are asked to work on mobile applications, big data initiatives, and other projects. IT may be losing budget and clout to marketing departments' technology initiatives, but organizations are leaning on IT to deliver them to the next phase of digital nirvana.

Second is the possibility that IT executives and their companies just don't want to hire full-time people to keep costs low, so they're turning to contract help. Computer Economics also speculates that the 30-hour threshold for mandatory health care may also be fueling the use of contract staff. 

Third, it's worth mentioning that we are entering a freelance, contract economy in a big way, and some analysts predict that half of all the work done for corporations by the year 2020 will be conducted by non-employees. Freelance.com, for one, says there has been demand for contractors with expertise in 3D printing, digital design, app design and development, social media marketing, telemarketing and email marketing, accounting and report writing and presentations.

There's a reflexive reaction to look at the heavy use of contractors as a negative, even underhanded strategy. But there are many IT professionals who prefer to work this way -- either as their own entity or as part of the bench of an IT services provider. And organizations need the flexibility as they attempt to keep up with fast-changing technology shifts.

ContractLabor_Fig5 from Computer Economics

(Chart: "Current Use of IT Contract Workers," Computer Economics, 2013.)

(Thumbnail photo courtesy of HubSpot.)

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