They say that what goes up, must come down—but today’s IT labor market is refusing to follow the rules. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has cited tech as one of the fastest growing job markets, with a 2 percent growth year over year and an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent, compared to the national average of 6.1 percent.
But even with the vast majority of IT professionals employed, demand for tech talent is still growing. In a semi-annual hiring survey from tech career site Dice.com, 70 percent of hiring managers reported looking to hire for IT positions in the second half of 2014. Interestingly, an increasing number of them aren’t seeking full-time IT employees, but are instead turning to temporary staffing agencies.
Temporary IT staffing on the rise
According to BLS data, 2014 saw a significant increase in temporary staffing. In August alone, 13,000 new temporary jobs were added in the U.S., bringing overall growth to 8.2 percent over last year.
While these numbers reflect temporary employment in general, the IT industry specifically has shown substantial growth for temporary positions. A report from Staffing Industry Analysts found that in 2013, 39 staffing agencies saw revenues of over $100 million from temporary IT staffing. And this number is only increasing—BLS projections place tech employment at a growth rate of 17.6 percent from 2012 to 2022, around 1.63 times faster than total employment.
The appeal of temporary IT staffing
Both companies and employees are finding temporary employment arrangements beneficial. For employers, hiring IT temps is a viable solution to the current IT talent shortage and the slim availability of full-time candidates.
As the economy continues to recover, employers who were rejecting candidates at the start of 2014 have found themselves being rejected by the end of the year. The hiring survey from Dice.com reported that 32 percent of hiring managers found more IT candidates turned down offers in the second half of the year—largely due to compensation packages that didn’t meet their expectations, or were more competitive elsewhere. This struggle for higher compensation is one of the primary benefits for IT professionals who take temporary positions, which often pay more than permanent gigs.
Part of the rise in temporary tech staffing has stemmed from a lack of full-time candidates and the need to fill positions quickly, but employers are choosing temporary IT pros for other reasons as well. Continual advances in technology lead to companies developing a lot of new projects in order to remain competitive—but they don’t always have the right mix of skills among their in-house IT departments to meet the new challenges. Hiring temporary IT staff on a per-project basis can give organizations a competitive edge, without the overhead expense of adding more full-time employees.
Temporary staffing arrangements also allow employers to implement a “try-before-you-buy” approach, and find out how new IT workers will fit with the company before making a permanent hiring decision.
Overall, the IT job market continues to expand rapidly, with no slowdown in sight. Both employers and IT professionals will continue to embrace temporary staffing solutions as a viable solution to full-time talent shortages, and a great way for IT employees to gain experience and enjoy a varied, rewarding career.