Souring Economy Gives Tech Freelancers a Lift

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New wave of IT freelancers prefer to tackle digital projects, then move on, say employers

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The firm said the second biggest gainer in demand for freelance coders is 45.5%, followed by back-end developers, up 37.7%.

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Last month, by contrast, new job postings by US employers for full-time IT employees fell 12% from August to nearly 300,000, according to IT trade group CompTIA.

Yet beyond cost-cutting efforts, employers say they are responding to a growing talent pool of IT freelancers with specialized skills in areas such as artificial intelligence that can be used for specific, short-term enterprise-technology tasks. Is.

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“You’re looking for highly specialized skills that you wouldn’t want to be hired, especially if it weren’t for a given project,” said Balaji Bondili, managing director at accounting firm Deloitte. Deloitte is a sponsor of the CIO Journal.

Mr Bondili said Deloitte relied more heavily on IT freelancers before or during the pandemic. Like most companies, he said, it enlists freelancers with specific skills in a range of capabilities, including AI and analytics.

Many of these workers prefer to tackle increasingly advanced digital initiatives, then move on rather than being tied to one employer, Mr Bondili said. To remain competitive, he said, “companies need access to these specialized freelancers.”

CompTIA Chief Research Officer Tim Herbert said that as prepared for the unique technical challenges, a growing number of IT freelancers prefer the more flexible hours and remote-working opportunities they have become accustomed to during the pandemic lockdown.

“The pandemic and, more recently, the turbulence in the economy, have driven demands for greater labor flexibility among both employers and workers,” said Mr. Herbert. He added that more IT workers are now choosing freelance jobs “as a preferred working model rather than as a last resort”. vice president Sebastian Sissels said freelance work also allows IT job seekers—especially young workers—to reduce the risk of becoming dependent on a single employer. By adopting remote work during the pandemic, employers “open the window” to hiring more freelancers, Mr Sisel said.

In the tech sector, the use of freelance workers has increased by about 20% since the start of COVID-19 in early 2020, said Luke Purdue, an economist at Gusto Inc., a cloud-based payroll, benefits and human-resources Management software manufacturer.

“Technology companies are increasingly turning to contract workers as a source of talent,” said Mr. Purdue. “Owners see the benefit of access to high-skilled workers who complement the work of existing employees for a specific project or deadline,” he said.

Freelancers—also known as independent contractors or gig workers—are cheaper than full-time workers, because employers are not required to offer benefits such as health insurance, or pay payroll taxes.

Broadly speaking, the Internal Revenue Service lumps freelancers, independent contractors and gig workers together, defining them as those engaged in work in which “the payer only has the authority to control or direct the result of the work, not What will be done and how will it be done.”

The Labor Department on Tuesday proposed new rules that would change how labor laws define independent contractors, a move that could affect millions of gig and contract workers. The agency said the proposal would use a “multifactor economic reality test” to determine whether freelancers are really in business to themselves, or simply misclassified employees.

The proposed changes, which will affect millions of workers across a range of industries, are intended to crack down on employers who deliberately blur the lines between employees and non-employees for economic gain.

Several tech-enabled companies such as Uber Technologies Inc.,

lift Inc.

and doordash Inc.,

Those heavily dependent on gig workers have resisted similar efforts in the past. After the announcement of the offer, Uber shares closed down 10%, Lyft dropped 12%, and DoorDash fell nearly 6%.

Angus Loten at [email protected]

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