Posted: 27 May 2020
Competition for IT contractors will intensify as more businesses rely on virtual workforces, predicts Eolas Recruitment.
Covid-19 has delivered a crash course in remote working for companies across Ireland many of whom never previously allowed their employees to work from home. When the lockdown was announced, Eolas Recruitment found that the speed at which businesses had to adapt their operating models increased demand for IT contractors. Managing director Vincent Flynn says this trend looks set to continue as working from home becomes part of the ‘new normal’.
“The pandemic has shown companies that working from home can give them greater flexibility. With an exit from the lockdown now beginning to come into view, it’s clear that a lot of the changes introduced in the last few weeks are here to stay. Already, hiring contractors with e-commerce and cybersecurity skills is on the increase. IT developers with experience of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data are also in demand.”
Asked why businesses are turning to contractors rather than hiring permanent employees, Vincent points to a recent study by the Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE) which shows that project freelancers add value by giving businesses flexible expertise beyond their permanent employees. Report author Andrew Burke says this enables innovation as well as helping businesses navigate peaks and troughs in demand. Although the research was conducted in the UK, it is equally relevant in Ireland.
“It’s not that daily rate IT contractors are being hired instead of permanent employees. It’s more about the flexibility and additional capacity that they add to a company’s existing workforce. While there has always been demand for IT contractors, what’s changing is the pace at which digitalisation is now taking place,” says Vincent.
Traditionally, contractors were used during times of rapid growth, in busy periods, or when companies needed to save on the costs associated with onboarding a permanent employee (e.g. training, benefits). Now, flexibility and urgency tend to be centre stage, but are not the only reason for the growing reliance on IT contractors, says Vincent.
“It’s a case of having to adapt. A workforce that blends permanent and contract workers gives companies the flexibility to cope with rapid change. The fact that more employees are now working from home is what’s driving the recent uplift in demand for e-commerce and cybersecurity contractors but new technologies are also transforming many businesses. Companies are hiring software developers and IT engineers on a contract basis for a broad range of specialist work. Examples range from assisting with AWS cloud projects, to configuring Dynamics CRM, implementing test scenarios and developing, supporting and optimising IT security solutions.”
“Urgency and flexibility are definitely incentives when it comes to hiring contractors,” agrees Senior Recruiter Peter Kirby.
“As well as being faster to find, experienced contractors usually require little or no induction and tend to be self-sufficient when it comes to problem-solving. That means they can hit the ground running faster than permanent employees and they usually require less supervision. So, hiring IT Contractors for short term assignments can be a great way to achieve the additional capacity or specialist skills that companies need.”
“Clients also need to keep in mind the cost advantages of using IT contractors,” adds Senior Recruiter Stephen Daly.
“There is no employer PRSI to worry about as the contractors are self employed. Clients also save on pensions, bonuses, holiday payments and so on. Those savings add up. A lot of Eolas Recruitment clients find it very cost-effective to use contractors, particularly for high-end IT roles.”
When it comes to managing IT contractors, there are advantages to working with a specialist agency like Eolas Recruitment who have in-depth knowledge of the technical requirements of IT roles and have built a strong reputation for quality and reliability in the provision of IT contracting services.
“Currently we have around 200 daily rate IT contractors on our books supporting clients in various sectors including in some of the largest companies in Ireland. As well as making sure that contractors have the relevant skills and experience for a particular role, we also make sure that they are a good cultural fit for client’s business,” explains Senior Recruiter Nollaig Leydon.
“Attitude is very important. It’s not enough that the contractor is technically competent and self-reliant—they also need to be able to integrate well with your existing team. Individual company cultures vary and not every contractor is suitable for every business.”
At a practical level, an important advantage for clients is that IT contractors are self-employed which usually means a reduced administrative burden when compared to hiring permanent employees, explains Nollaig.
“Eolas Recruitment checks that each contractor has a properly set up Limited Company and is registered for tax in Ireland. We provide advice on market rates and let clients know when contractors are due an increase or deserve one. We also manage the payment process and make sure that time-sheets and invoices are streamlined and online. If contracts need to be extended, we can coordinate the extension times. One thing companies need to look after themselves is their onboarding process. We always advise clients to make sure they have a good onboarding policy in place, particularly where onboarding is being done remotely as is happening with some companies during the current pandemic.”
Compliance here really is key, and we have robust policies in place. We work with specialist umbrella company providers, such a Contracting PLUS, which allow your chosen contractor to be fully insured and onsite in a matter of hours.
At the time of writing, Eolas Recruitment has over 200 active daily rate contractors on client placements in Dublin and across Ireland. With more than 20 years’ experience supporting businesses, the team understands the skills and requirements for technical IT roles. They provide support and advice on hiring contractors along with access to relevant skills.
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