The contracting landscape is one which has changed significantly over recent years, with an increase in the number of people choosing to work for themselves forcing successive governments to adapt and accommodate the needs of independent professionals.
One of the major factors in the way that contractors and other self employed individuals have shaped policy has been the ongoing need for the skills and experience that the flexible workforce brings to businesses throughout the UK. Without independent professionals, many businesses would have been unable to expand, diversify or fill the positions they have had vacant, as the news this month shows.
Knowledge economy flourishing with contractors filling vital roles
The Knowledge Economy, those businesses which rely on intellectual capital to make them profit, is making a huge contribution to the overall health of the UK’s finances. FinTech, TV and film production, aerospace and pharmaceuticals are just some of the sectors which are doing particularly well and contributing to recently reported figures that suggest the knowledge economy is generating new business at four times the rate of other sectors and industries.
Many commentators believe that this is in no small part due to government stimulation initiatives, such as offering tax credits to businesses undertaking work in research and development. The field is a particularly lucrative one for contractors, given the speed with which projects are undertaken, making it an opportunity-rich time for independent professionals with the right skills.
Prospects good for contractors seeking work in Africa
Increasing development in the oil and gas industries in Africa have opened up a range of opportunities for experienced contractor who want to take on the challenge of an international contract. Investment in research and exploration has been rewarding, and improvements made to the infrastructure of a number of countries has meant that there are a lot more prospects in Ghana and South Africa, as well as emerging markets coming to the fore in other countries including Libya, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria and Egypt.
With interesting and potentially well-paid vacancies opening up throughout Africa, there are a range of jobs available for contractors as countries such as Ghana are enjoying a 17-fold increase in their oil production and need experienced specialists to help with their expanding markets.
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FinTech contractors enjoying rewarding opportunities
Financial technology is a rapidly expanding sector, with a number of advances providing opportunities for some companies to expand at rates which could see them making serious waves economy-wide if the current trends continue.
One of the major effects of this is the increasing need amongst these companies for a flexible and skilled workforce to take on roles which require both financial and technical expertise, meaning that they are able to command rates of up to £430 per day. This is higher than the average wage for an employee, and the number of positions available in Fintech companies has increased for contractors in comparison to the number of opportunities for permanent staff.
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Government under pressure to improve prospects for SMEs
The number of government contracts awarded to owner operated companies has been a cause for concern, at least as far as industry body IPSE is concerned. The organisation has reported that the number of pubic sector contracts awarded to small businesses has been disproportionately low, largely, they believe, due to the methods used for sourcing and awarding contracts.
Contract Finder, the initiative designed to make it easier for businesses to learn about projects that they might be able to land, has proved unfit for purpose, with many contractors and businesses not even being aware that the interface exists.
With 51 per cent of the government’s budget going to the same ‘big five’ IT services companies, there are concerns that the awarding of contracts is more of a closed shop than the government is letting on.
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