The current economic crisis has had a severe effect on the IT contractor market. In fact, since the last quarter of 2008, the number of jobs being advertised has dropped massively. The scale of the job cuts in other industries only serve as to exacerbate the general feelings of pessimism in the IT freelance market.
Rates have been cut by up to 25% or more, and worse still many jobs have been lost. Traditionally, the finance sector has been one of the largest hirers of freelance contract staff. Meanwhile, the typical yearly inconvenience of the festive season has always been a burden to those actively seeking work, wondering where the next contracting opportunity will come from.
As of January 2009, whilst the number of jobs hasn’t actually risen, at least the Christmas period is now over and many companies are looking at new budgets for the year. There has been a rise in job activity, but that in itself does not necessarily translate into contract placements.
The more adaptive contractor will be opening up his/her search to assignments that are abroad. However, given the recent unrest in the news recently regarding foreign workers in both England and France (albeit in other industries), one wonders whether there may be an impact on jobs from abroad being restricted more to nationals. Certainly this will be a small test for freedom of movement throughout the European Community, as only time can tell.
The recent BBC documentary on the Great Depression of 1929 has some uncanny parallels to the predicament the world finds itself in today. Many of the people of today are echoing the exact words as many of the population of that time, across a divide of almost a century!
At the moment, for many contractors it is a case of battening down the hatches and trying to remain with their existing client. In comparison to the IT contractor recession of 2002/03 after Y2K and the burst of the dot com bubble, I believe this will be far worse. Many of my colleagues gave up contracting and IT altogether. Without doubt we’re all in for a bumpy ride in 2009!