Contracting roles outnumber full-time positions

IT contractor jobs overshadow permanent positions in online advertisements marking a significant shift in the local market.

More than 80 percent of IT jobs advertised online in the past two years have been for contractor positions, according to the Icon Index Internet Report.

Norman Lacy, executive director of the IT Contracting Recruitment Association, said the higher figure represents a surprising change in the industry. The generally accepted wisdom is that contracting roles share a 50/50 presence with permanent roles in the marketplace.

"Icon has credibility in the marketplace, but I am surprised by the figure," Lacy said questioning the results.

He said a contributing factor could be that organizations may be less likely to advertise full-time positions drawing on other resources.

But Icon regional business director Baldev Bedi said employers in the IT industry are choosing contractors over full-time employees.

"This trend is very evident and is likely to continue in 2005," Bedi added.

"IT professionals are also choosing flexibility and variety with former full-timers moving into casual roles instead of pursuing traditional or hierarchical career paths."

The report found 95 percent of IT jobs advertised in Canberra during the last two years were contract positions, 93 percent of jobs in New South Wales were advertised as contract roles and 90 percent of roles advertised in both Queensland and Victoria were for contract positions. The top advertised positions were for technical and engineering roles, with support-related positions coming in second.

Robert Walters IT recruitment manager Glenn Beauchamp said the shift is being driven by a perception that the economic climate is positive. He said IT staff are "dipping their toe" in contract roles with the promise of higher incomes.

"Most contract positions are now longer in nature - a lot of fixed-term contracts now go for 12 months," Beauchamp said.

"At the moment the market is clearly moving and there are a number of shortages in some skill sets proving there is a lot more confidence in the economy."

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