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Highest ever proportion of female IT contractors
by Susie Hughes at 19:55 25/06/18 (News on Business)
A record number of female IT professionals are working as contractors, according to recent research.
According to data obtained from National Statistics, the number of female IT contractors jumped by 24.6 per cent between 2016 and 2017, from 16,568 to 20,648. As a result, the proportion of IT contractors who are women has reached a record high. 16.5 per cent of IT contractors are now women.

The data also reveals that the number of self-employed IT professionals is continuing to rise at a faster rate than the number of IT employees. The number of self-employed IT professionals increased by 4.5 per cent over the past year, from 119,568 to 125,012, compared to a 3.9 per cent increase in the number of IT employees, from 675,000 to 701,000. This continues a trend that began during the financial crisis.

According to National Statistics, which supplied the data, a person is self-employed if they: run their business for themselves and take responsibility for its success or failure. Self-employment can be in the form of a sole trader, a partnership (two or more people who run a business) and an owner of a limited liability company (also responsible running the business).

Good news
Accountants Nixon Williams explains that the dramatic increase, both in the absolute number of IT contractors, and the proportion which are women, is good news for the growth of the UK tech sector. This is because contractors are a very efficient means of transferring skills among multiple organisations, which can help alleviate talent shortages.

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Derek Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of Nixon Williams, said: “The increase in the proportion of the IT workforce operating as contractors has been driven by demand from both IT professionals and the end users of their skills. The shift in the composition of the IT workforce since the financial crisis is doubly remarkable because much of the change is due to an influx of women into contracting.”

“Contracting has always been regarded as riskier than employment, but that perception has changed with the emergence of the gig economy and the erosion of employee rights and benefits.

"Freelancing increasingly is seen as a career as much as a lifestyle choice. In areas which suffer from chronic skills shortages, such as IT and engineering, many contractors are rarely out of work, and higher levels of pay generally more than compensate for any gaps between contracts.

“The current economic uncertainty is making the use of contractors increasingly attractive to organisations. With future demand so hard to predict many organisations are deferring hiring decisions and turning to contractors to provide additional capacity.

“There are more women in IT in both permanent and contracting roles, but the increasing proportion of contractors who are women is particularly significant as contractors tend to earn more than their permanent counterparts, which suggests that the pay gap between men and women in the IT sector is likely to be narrowing.”

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