Though we are slowly emerging from the most challenging time of the pandemic, the repercussions of COVID will last for a long time, particularly when it comes to the ways we work.
In fact, in Australia and New Zealand, we’re still seeing big changes to the IT contracting market, for both contractors and those seeking their services.
Here’s a rundown of the shifts we’ve seen so far, and what we expect for the future.
How have rates fluctuated for contractors?
For much of the pandemic, Australia and New Zealand closed their borders to skilled migrants, and it’s hard to understate what an impact this had on the contracting markets in both countries.
Without labour coming from abroad, companies looked to native citizens to fill gaps in their teams and fill new roles. This put the power in the hands of contractors, who were able to negotiate larger rates to fill this new need.
The tech sector in particular saw substantial salary increases among skilled professionals. According to the Australian Financial Review, the cost of hiring skilled software developers or security/data specialists spiked by 30 per cent in Australia over a 12-month period during the pandemic.
But in March, we wrote about how opening borders were beginning to change this trend. Though the return of skilled migrant workers to ANZ hasn’t been immediate, the increase in talent naturally means that the wage increases are starting to slow.
What did companies learn about contract labour?
Many Australian and New Zealand businesses were forced to take creative measures to deliver their projects. As a result, a number of companies dipped their toes into the contract market for the very first time during the pandemic.
Though the demand for contractors may be slowing some, we anticipate that it will remain higher than it was pre-pandemic, because so many businesses experienced the value of skilled contract work.
These organisations discovered that contract workers are often more affordable, particularly for short-term projects like software development or product rollouts. They also learned that they don’t have to sacrifice skill or quality of work when taking on a well-resourced and experienced team of professional contractors.
What did contract workers learn during the pandemic?
When the lockdown restrictions came into play, an enormous number of Australians and Kiwis discovered that their jobs were completely manageable from home. So it’s no surprise that the vast majority of Australians want to continue working remotely at least in part going forward.
Though many workers continued full-time employment with a single company during the pandemic, a large number used the time to explore other opportunities, including contracting.
So, while we do expect that the demand for contractors will remain above where it was, we also know that competition among contractors has increased as well.
Also, it’s likely that many workers who explored contract work decided it wasn’t the right solution for them. Some people may prefer the reliable paycheck that comes from having a long-term employer with the benefits that come with it, over the freedom and flexibility that contract work brings.
What should contractors and the businesses that hire them do going forward?
In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic is still a part of everyday life. While workers may have returned to the office in many places, and migrant workers have begun returning to Australia and New Zealand, there’s still no way to know for certain what the future holds for the contract market.
What is certain, however, is that hiring contractors—and working as a contractor—is a lot simpler with experienced talent professionals on your team.
At Finite, we specialize in helping businesses in the tech industry find the best and ‘closest-fit’ contractors for their specific needs, and within their budgets. Connecting great people, is what we do best.
For help navigating the tech contracting market, get in touch for a consultation with one of our talented team members today.