Professional Contracting in Ireland – June 2021

Professional Contracting in Ireland – June 2021

by | 4 Jun 2021 | Future of Work

The Research, Irelands Project Economy

The Grey Matters Network was established in 2015. Before that, there was no one place for Ireland’s high skilled independent professionals to come together. This also meant that there was no one place organisations could go to find such professionals. We were delighted therefore to support the recently published research carried out by Trinity College Dublin in association with Contracting Plus.

This is a highly credible piece of work. 95% of the participants are drawn from high skilled workers in managerial, professional, IT and technical occupations. This cohort accounts for 43% of the Irish workforce. Download your copy of the report here

The importance to the economy

The research confirmed a lot of what we felt to be true back at that time we formed. We felt that there is an important and valuable place in our economy and our society for the high skilled professional contractor. Furthermore, these professionals are keen to contribute their years of experience well beyond the normal retirement age.

In the words of Professor Andrew Burke Dean of Trinity Business School:

“Innovation, agility, growth and the ability to manage uncertainty and risk are the keys to competitive advantage and success. In order to perform at this dynamic level these firms need to draw on independent contractors to access expertise beyond the confines of their employee base”. They can therefore “respond rapidly to changing markets and technological requirements and manage innovation and growth on an agile and lower risk project basis”.

This research re-affirms that the use of high skilled contractors actually creates net employment growth. In Professor Burke’s words,

“They are complementors rather than competitors of employees”.

Why choose a contractor rather than a permanent employee?

The Grey Matters Network is a provider of skilled professional contractors. We at the were interested to understand from the research what drives a company’s decision to choose this form of worker engagement. The three main points highlighted in the research are, internal company needs, a tight skills market and candidates.

We observe that companies come to us for experienced professionals. The contractor will either SUPPLEMENT their existing permanent workforce for a defined period of time or will COMPLEMENT their team with a particular skill or expertise.

The Value of Age

A further interesting takeaway from the research is the ‘value of age’. As our company name might suggest, this is an area of interest to us. It found that experience and having a track record appear to be highly valued. This is reflected in the rates paid to the different age cohorts. It is interesting to note that 40% of the participants in this research were over the age 50.

The benefits of accessing a large panel of contractors

Contracting can bring its challenges for for both parties. Not all areas of expertise are in equal demand or for that matter in constant supply. The research found that respondents spent an average of 5 weeks looking for a new contract. 38% of respondents indicated that they relied on their own initiative to find work. This implies that companies looking to supplement or complement their teams will also rely on or can be limited by their own network. A benefit often cited by our customers is that they have exhausted their own network while returning customers have realised the benefit of having access to a choice of hundreds rather than just a small number of options. The research also touches on availability. It indicates that on average it can take 4 weeks to find and place a candidate. The ability to provide the right person within the right timeframe is a key differentiator in this market.

What the future holds

The research quotes a client “Contractors offer huge flexibility to organisations and in an era when organisations need to be agile, contractors are very important”.

Reassuringly for all is the finding that is common to both the contractor and their clients is that all the indices for the future are up. The expectation of 48% of the respondents is that the Irish economy will grow in 2021. It is also expected by 55% that the number of contract roles will grow.

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