Changing perspectives: How contractors’ roles are evolving

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Historically, temporary workers were seen in some quarters as a solution to staff absences or sudden spikes in workload – a labour pool to be drawn upon in times of crisis.

We have long argued that the rise of the highly-skilled, professional contractor should warrant a sea change in the way contingent work is viewed. Contractors and freelancers represent much more than a stop-gap: they bring fresh talents, insights and abilities to an organisation. As such, they are a valuable asset.

Happily, it now seems that the business world agrees. A recent survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that eight out of ten employers are hiring temps and contractors in order to gain “short-term access to key strategic skills.”

Reflecting on the findings, REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “Temporary work has historically been associated with the lower-skilled end of the jobs market, but we’re seeing the profile of agency workers change as more people choose to work in this way because of the pay and flexibility it offers.”

He added: “Candidate availability is extremely low and as a result more employers are offering lucrative short-term assignments, especially in fields such as engineering.”

This apparent shift in attitude (which some may argue is overdue) will undoubtedly be welcomed by everyone involved in the contractor management industry.

Meanwhile, the survey also highlighted the financial benefits of contracting, with 65% of employers paying contingent workers more than their permanent counterparts.

In a final piece of good news for contractors, 97% of respondents said they plan to increase or maintain the size of their temporary workforce in the coming months.

Have your say

Are you a contractor? Do you agree with the survey findings? Do you expect this upward trend to continue? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.