IT Work Contracts Are Getting Shorter

Working as a contractor is common in IT and the pay rates can be good if you choose the right specialisation, but it can make forward planning difficult. That's likely to become a bigger problem in the future, with one study suggesting that the average length of IT contract engagements is shortening.

Picture by Ed Schipul

The SkillsMatch Contractor Salary Survey conducted by the Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association (ITCRA) each quarter includes data on the duration of contractor roles. There has been a definite increase in short-term contracts over that time, while the percentage of longer contracts has declined, according to ITCRA CEO Julie Mills:

In the third quarter of 2011, contracts between 1-3 months accounted for 16 per cent of all contract placements made, while in the second quarter of 2012 this jumped to 35 per cent. Conversely, longer contracts of 7-12 months accounted for 36.5 per cent of all placements in the third quarter of 2011, while in the most recent quarter this dropped to only 23.47 per cent of placements.

Have you noticed contractor offers getting shorter? Tell us in the comments.

ITCRA


Comments

    In my experience the initial contracts are short, but often get extended to at least double the initial length.

    Im currently on a 6mth contract... possible extension for another 6mths... but when looking for work see many 1-3 mth offers out there

    Mine initial contract was 3 months which got extend to 6 months after that...Which then got extended another 6 months...and which has just been extended again for another 6 months :)

    How is the picture related even a little bit? Made me laugh though.

      +1. what is that? Neanderthal man fossil?

        It looks like the shrunken head of one of the explorers from 'cannibal holocaust'.

    I'm currently a contractor in the IT industry. I had an initial contract of 6 months, then 2 x 3 month contracts & I've just received a 6 month extension. I'll be going full time after that though. Thank god.

    Yeah unless the project gets canned or you're really crap, 99% of them are extended as the others have said.

    I started on a 12 month one and it's lasted 5 years now!

    I started a 3 month contract on Feb 19th... 2006.

    Terms for contracts ?? They are a joke. I don't even both chasing my employer or agent for contract extensions. Most just become ongoing. Contracts in this case only really protect the employers. They can terminate a contract well before any end date with a small notice period like one week. Unless u negotiated something better, your better of with no contract.

    Doesn't matter how long your contract is, they can still stop your employment at any time for no reason - most contracts state only 2 weeks notice... And you can leave with 2 weeks notice too. I recently got mine extended for 8 months while 25 "safely employed" permanents were let go.

      Not entirely true. Best to have things in black and white so you know what your options are.
      I had situations where no contract was drawn, I ended up doing a term and then got fired.
      Then when I demanded my pay they never payed they told me they never heard of me technically.

        Srry, was meant for the Kanthan above u chris, my bad

    I started my first non-permanent job with a 3-month contract eight years ago, and I'm still there. After that first 3 months it was changed to an annual contract. I haven't seen any slowdown at all right through the GFC, and doing contracts for the government I would predict I never would. There's just too much to do, too many huge projects just waiting to begin and mountainous applications needing maintenance. I'm not sure about other areas of IT, but certainly in Java development I feel like my colleagues and I would be some of the last people to go in any grand layoff - either that or they would have to choose to turn off all their applications. It's a good spot to be in from that perspective.

    While I've noticed that the IT industry is rife with this, it's not the only sector that is affected. In my experience its within most white collar industries.
    It seems that employers are moving towards a more flexible workforce and that flexibility is easily achieved with shorter contracts or even temporary or casual positions.

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