In the second half of 2017, contractors continue to face uncertainty. Brexit negotiations are still in a state of disarray and the government is yet to offer concrete solutions. Other issues, like the major changes to IR35, have left contractors feeling like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
“The IT Contractor Index hit a seven month high back in November 2016. The seven-month high chimes with the index compilers’ belief that despite ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, the jobs market is thriving again in most areas. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation also said that new opportunities — permanent and contract across nine industries including IT — are, back to levels not seen since April.”
From a purely economic standpoint, 2017 has been relatively positive. The pound has regained some of the ground it lost immediately post-Brexit, world stock markets were boosted following the US and French elections, and overall GDP growth has been fairly positive throughout.
However, does the contractors’ happiness index match these positive trends?
In conversation with a contractor veteran
To answer this question, we spoke with Mark. He’s a veteran contractor, having begun contracting in 1992 at the age of 21. In our conversation, we spoke with him about the massive changes UK contractors have witnessed over the past twenty or so years. Our conversation left us feeling that contracting is probably heading in a good direction.
“When I began contracting,” Mark said, “the economy was very unstable at the time. We’d had Norman Lamont, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, talking about green shoots of recovery yet that was looking a long way off. The contracting world was still pretty much in its infancy, there was no organisations or forums out there that could help. For me, as a fresh faced 21-year-old, it was quite scary yet exciting at the same time. You see, I’d always loved the idea of working independently, and imparting my skills to different companies.”
Mark said contractors today have a lot to be thankful for. “There’s many things that have improved for contractors since I first started. In 2017, I feel like contractors are valued by businesses more than ever. Also, despite the government blowing hot and cold with us, we have a voice and a collective sense of unity. Whenever the government does do something that may harm us in the long run, we’ve all got each others back – if that makes sense. I can only speak as an IT contractor of course, but with the strength of digital communications, our savviness in this area has seen us create strong communities, where all of us can offer each other help and advice.”
“I would personally say that IT contractors have been strong leaders in this digital revolution that’s taken place over the last 20 years. It’s because as contractors, and not tied to one company, we are free to be innovators. We help companies bring themselves up to scratch.”
His final thoughts on where contracting were optimistic. He said, “Well, I genuinely feel positive about the future of contracting. I know some may disagree, with Brexit still in disarray and fears about this damn IR35 reform. But as someone who’s worked as a contractor for a over two decades, I’ve seen worse times. With the amount of new business emerging, easier ways to travel and communicate, we’re heading in a great direction. So, if there’s any contractors reading this and feeling like all hope is lost, don’t worry too much.”