Information technology (IT) workers always seem to be jumping from one organization to another. But is this perception justified? What explains the significance of temporary work in this field? Two recruiters talk to us.
“You have to make a difference between temporary jobs and the use of consultants,” says Bruno Filion, senior talent acquisition adviser at Arobas Personnel. In his opinion there are no more temporary jobs in IT than in other fields.
Some companies nonetheless hire IT employees for short assignments. Among the reasons behind this phenomenon, the recruiter notes the desire of the employer to “see what the candidate has in his belly” before offering him a permanent position. In other cases, it is a matter of dealing with a sudden increase in workload. “If this volume is maintained, the employer will often create a permanent position,” he says.
Where IT is distinguished is in the impressive number of self-employed workers this sector has. In its 2018 Sectoral Analysis, TECHNOCompétences indicates that in 2016 there were between 18,000 and 22,000 self-employed workers operating in IT in Quebec. The number has been growing since the beginning of the millennium.
Why so many consultants?
Marie Jacques, CHRA and senior IT talent acquisition consultant with Recrutement MGMT, says that contract work has always been important in this field. The ad hoc nature of technology needs of companies operating outside this sector is the reason: “A company will often have a special project, such as redesign of its website and e-commerce platform, or setting up a cloud system. They will not need this employee once the project is completed, so they hire a consultant instead,” she explains.
The current scarcity of labour also contributes to the growth in the number of self-employed IT workers: “Employers like people who stay with them for the long term, but the shortage of labour can force them to hire a consultant,” Bruno Filion notes. In 2017, the unemployment rate was only 2.6% among Canadian it workers, compared to 6.5% for the total workforce in the country, according to the Information and Communication Technology Council of Canada (ICTC).
And the trend is not about to disappear; the ICTC predicts that 44,000 more workers will be needed in Quebec’s ICT industry by 2021, for a total of 336,200 jobs in the field. In Ontario, this number is expected to rise to 669,500 workers.
Self-employment, for better or for worse
By becoming consultants, IT specialists win freedom. They can choose assignments that match their interests and negotiate an enviable hourly rate. “In computer security, consultants can easily command $150 per hour,” says Marie Jacques. That’s without mentioning the possibility of subtracting from their taxable income the cost of their work tools and other expenses incurred to carry out their assignments.
Self-employment nonetheless has its drawbacks, such as irregular income, the risk that a project will be cancelled and the need to constantly adapt to new environments and work teams.
“Self-employment isn’t for everyone,” Marie Jacques sums up.