Software Developer contract opportunities in 2022

Software development in 2022 will keep moving towards cloud-based solutions, because the cloud will continue to play a big role in assisting companies with their speed, agility, and security, writes Matt Collingwood of IT recruitment agency VIQU.

For software development contractors in 2022, the paid-opportunities will be increasingly remote-based and increasingly lucrative over the coming year.

(More) software development market predictions

And during the 12 months of 2022, we further expect more freelance developers to use tools like Toptal to bid for work.

But we also expect that, wherever they are advertised, software development contracts will remain more likely than many other IT contractor assignments to be outside IR35.

We’ll come back to these important points later.

Six software developmet contracts with a 2022 flavour

But nodding to some of them below, here are six of the best software developer contract opportunities on offer right now in 2022:

  1. Full Stack Developer (.net Core / C#) – 3 Months initial – Remote Working – Outside IR35
  2. .Net Developer (.net Core / C# / Azure / DDD) – 6 Months initial – Remote Working – Outside IR35
  3. Front End Developer (React / Redux / Typescript) – 6 Months Contract (Initial) – Outside IR35
  4. Full stack Developer – Cookie Compliance Project – Remote / Ad hoc travel – 3 months initial contract – Outside IR35
  5. Lead PHP Developer – 6-month initial Contract – Remote Work / London
  6. Development Project Manager – 3 Month contract – Leicester / Remote – Outside  IR35

Where software development's been, and where next in 2022

Now a bit about me, just so you know I’m well-positioned to foresee what’s next in the contractor software development market.

I started my career in IT recruitment over 25 years ago, when I had a penchant for recruiting for coding languages like COBOL and PASCAL.

Although the landscape of software development has changed significantly since then, my passion for software development has not. That’s why I opened my own IT recruitment agency in 2014, where upon one of my main focuses was to build an in-house development team to assist the agency’s clients.

In the last five to 10 years, I have observed the skills gap within the development market vastly increase. For instance, a couple of years before covid reared its ugly head, I distinctly remember an APSCo-authored article stating that a huge 97% of companies complained of hiring challenges within development!

Fast-forward to today, and companies still have no choice but to adjust to the current skills gap within the market. But recently, we have seen some engagers establish highly-innovative strategies for attracting and growing development talent, through apprenticeships, coding academies and the like. For instance, one of the UK’s largest Microsoft Gold product companies now runs a sponsored degree programme in order to secure the best development talent before they even start university.

Software development shocker: agencies aren’t part of the solution

Such companies are doing what they can to reduce the skills gap. But generally (I’m now going to assert the unspeakable as an agency boss) -- I believe recruitment businesses do not help solve the problem. They add to it. By moving existing developers from client to client, agencies are doing nothing to help the market.

Striving to be different, we’ve tried to do our bit via our International Workers’ Programme, which brings highly-skilled developers into the UK through the Skilled Workers visa route (formerly known as Tier 2 sponsorship).

Some of these imported workers will help with where development is going in 2022. And that’s continuing towards cloud-based solutions, reflecting the fact that the cloud will maintain its key role in making companies more speedy, agile and secure.

Two-thirds of software development contracts? They're now remote

As I also touched on at the outset, remote working in the software development space is here to stay. According to our database, 38% of developer contractors worked remotely pre-pandemic, compared to 65% working remotely at the start of 2022.

Remember, there was already a movement towards remote working within the development market pre-pandemic. Covid has only accelerated it. The pandemic has helped companies to see the clear benefits of remote working, especially for hard-to-find development talent. Companies can now cast their recruitment net wider, either to their region depending on if the contract requires some office visits, or to the whole of the UK if the role is fully remote.

So location no longer needs to be a factor. Indeed, since the pandemic started, engagements we place from clients who are 100% remote-based have doubled. This is a clear indicator of where the IT market is going, and I see it as a huge positive for the software development market specifically.

IR35, rates, prospects...

If it is not where they work, it is how much they’ll earn, and under what status, which contractors will continue to ask about in 2022. On both fronts, there is good news.

IR35 is moving in the right direction for software developers. In fact, at the start of 2022, just 22% of our contract developers were inside IR35, versus a hefty 78% working outside IR35. Interestingly, in comparison, when looking at all other areas of IT contracting at Q1 2022, just under half that percentage were working outside IR35.

Further auspiciously, software developer pay rates for contractors have increased by 12% in the last year. And we’re expecting to see rates increase further this year, especially on extensions.

That incoming uptick is because overall, we expect very high demand for contractor software developers in 2022. Here’s an interesting, related stat. When comparing the first six months of 2021 to the last six months, our advert response was down by 80%. Sounds bad, right? But no, this actually just highlights the fact that IT talent, especially highly-skilled professionals like developers, are in such high demand that they do not even need to go to the trouble of going forward for opportunities to secure their next role!

Bid sites to bloom

In 2022, we expect to see more developers using tools such as Toptal to bid for work. From speaking with a number of recent users, they like the simplicity of the transactions, in addition to the simple dialogue with clients. However, I have also heard that it can be a frustrating platform to use when the chosen bidder/developer is often selected solely based on price. As platforms like Toptal are global, developers from certain countries are under-cutting the basic rate a developer in the UK would charge.

Are platforms like this making recruitment agencies redundant? Absolutely not. There are a lot of limitations and inconsistencies to using tools like this. However, I do see the appeal for developers looking for short-term work or an extra way to make money in addition to their contract or permanent job.

So finally, how much do software development contracts pay?

And as money talks, let’s end on some tangibles! Here’s the latest rates for the six hot software development contracts I shared at the top – and remember, they are all outside IR35.

  1. Full Stack Developer (.net Core / C#); £350-£400 per day.
  2. Net Developer (.net Core / C# / Azure / DDD); £400-500 per day.
  3. Front End Developer (React / Redux / Typescript); £400-500 per day.
  4. Full stack Developer (Cookie Compliance Project); £350-£400 per day.
  5. Lead PHP Developer (London) £500-£550 per day.
  6. Development Project Manager (Leicester / Remote) £500- £525 per day.

Check out the latest Software Developer jobs and contracts 



Tuesday 18th Jan 2022
Profile picture for user Matt Collingwood

Written by Matt Collingwood

Matt Collingwood is the Managing Director of VIQU Ltd. an IT recruitment and project-based consultancy company with offices in Birmingham and Southampton. Matt is also the co-founder of the Recruitment Canaries, a network of West Midlands based recruitment agencies who encourage collaboration, best practice and upholding the standards and ethics of the recruitment industry.

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