IT contractor pay boom on eve of Brexit vote

Professionals in IT who work temporarily or freelance saw their pay and prospects blossom on the eve of the Brexit vote, much more than those who work in it full-time, says a recruiter.

In fact, in Q2, average IT contractor day rates leapt annually by 9.1% to £431, almost double IT salaries’ growth, and their demand rose 2.2%, versus just 1.9% for permies, found Experis.

“[Between April and June] average contractor day rates increase[d] in all of the five disciplines compared to the same period of 2015,” said the recruiter, referring to Big Data, Cloud, Mobile, Security and Web Development.

“In many cases,” added Experis’ managing director Geoff Smith, “the reduction in permanent roles advertised seems to have been at least partly made up for by a significant uplift in contractor recruitment.

“Given the time range that this research covers, this may reflect an element of caution being demonstrated prior to the vote, as well as a period of shock following the results. Only time will tell whether this is a temporary shift.”

One of the agency’s own indicators suggests the momentum for contractors is far from a fad. Quizzing hiring managers in April, almost seven in ten told the recruiter they would become increasingly reliant on non-permanent IT workers in the future.

Such techies are raking it in the most from Big Data, which is the highest paying of the five measured IT disciplines -- for permies too; and clients in London (average day rate of £450).

In terms of growth however, the Cloud is the top discipline (rates up 11% on last year), and Bristol is the top location (average day rates surged by 10.3% compared with Q1 2016).

But some growth stats should be treated with caution; impressive quarter-on quarter rate growth for Newcastle of 7% sounds appealing, but the city is actually offering IT contractors an average of 19% less than it did the same time a year ago.

The second quarter report suggests Brighton might be struggling too. Its IT day rates are down by only a tiny fraction, but the coastal city advertised some 27% fewer full-time IT roles than the same period last year. Mobile and Web Development are still its mainstays however, for both contractors and permies.

Elsewhere, the best payers for IT contractors (after London), are – in order: Leeds (typically paying just £21 shy of London’s average day rate); Bristol (a top payer for Mobile) and Birmingham (a top payer for Cloud and paying a higher average rate than London for IT security).

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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