Rates for professional contractors increased by an average of 11pc in 2011, and the average monthly invoice per contractor in the IT and engineering sector rose to €6,484 for the month of December 2011, coming to an annual rate of €77,808, research from CXC Consultants Exchange suggests.
The research also indicated that roles for professional contractors increased in 2011. IT contracting roles increased by 8pc and engineering contracting roles increased by 30pc from a low base.
The research also revealed that contracting was spreading into other areas beyond the traditional IT and engineering sectors.
“We are seeing a steep rise in the level of contract work available in Ireland, particularly in manufacturing, light industrial and pharmaceutical sectors as many companies are not in a position to increase their permanent headcount but can offer contract work," said Anne Fanthom, managing director, Recruitment Plus. "These contracts are frequently extended. We are predicting a sharp growth in this trend in 2012.”
Roles that require high skill levels are seeing the largest growth in contingency workforces. Contract workers with viable skills in the pharmaceutical sector, for example, are able to demand premium rates and continually upgrade their skills.
Contract workers in the pharmaceutical sector have the opportunity to work in varied roles and diversify their skills, Fanthom said.
"As well as this, the nature of this work allows professionals to take time off to invest in further training, putting them ahead of their peers in permanent positions.”
Fergal Lennon, managing director of CXC, added that multinational companies are driving the contracting market.
"The flexibility and high quality of the contract workforce available in Ireland allow the Irish operations of multinational companies to compete effectively with other locations to bring projects to Ireland," said Lennon.
"It’s a good time to be a contractor in Ireland today. Contracting is a long-term lifestyle that allows a professional to have career control and flexibility as well as a premium salary.
"The reality today is that permanent workers can’t guarantee a future in a company. However, contract workers can exercise control over their careers," said Lennon.