IT contractors push for longer term work, says recruiter

Job market fears mean they want more stable income

IT contractors are pushing for longer term work, even at the expense of pay, according to research.

As the recession tightens its grip on the job market, some 62 percent of contractors would accept a longer contract instead of more pay per hour, according to research by Giant Group, which provides services to recruiters and contractors. This was an increase of six percentage points on 2003.

With the vast majority of contractors -- 84 percent -- spending up to a month out of work between contracts, only thirty eight percent said they would prefer more pay over a longer contract duration.

Contractors are also counting on the public sector to provide work. One third believe the public sector would offer job opportunities in a difficult time, over twice the amount six years ago, as it was often less volatile than the private sector, and shorter term projects already allocated budgets would still likely go ahead. The number of contractors expecting work in the financial sector nearly halved to 15 percent.

Nevertheless, long term joblessness has fallen among contractors. Unemployment among IT contractors is only half of what it was following the crash of five years ago, according to Giant. Under eight percent of contractors were out of work for 90 days or more last year, compared to 13 percent in 2003.

Matthew Brown, managing director at Giant Group, said contractors were "still concerned about job security" as it was not clear whether the jobs market had further to fall. Nevertheless, he said, "recent research indicates that IT spending is unlikely to be as negatively impacted by the downturn as spending in other business areas".

The news comes as it was reported that BT plans to cut its IT contractor rates by up to 30 percent. The Guardian newspaper reported that BT has made about 6,000 contractors redundant over the past few months as part of a plan to cut 10,000 staff.

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