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Your Next Job, Next Year, May Be Self-Employment

Computerworld (12/23/13) Patrick Thibodeau 

The technology industry is experiencing a shift toward a more independent, contingent IT workforce, which could mean younger and mid-career workers need to prepare to be self-employed. About 18 percent of all IT workers today are self-employed, and this workforce is growing at a rate of about 7 percent per year, which is faster than the overall growth rate for independent workers, according to Emergent Research. "In today's world, change is happening so quickly that everyone is trying to figure out how to be more flexible and agile, cut fixed costs and move to variable costs," says Emergent's Steve King. A recent MBO Partners study estimated that the entire independent workforce in the United States totals 17.7 million, and that about 1 million of those are IT professionals. "The difference now is that use of contract or temporary workers is not being driven by a boom, but rather by a reluctance to hire permanent workers as the economy improves," says Computer Economics' John Longwell. However, for those workers with desirable IT skills, "there is a lot more opportunity to find part-time employment and set up your own shop and work as a consultant and contractor than there has been in the past," King says. In addition, there will be more full-time opportunities for younger workers as baby boomers gradually leave the workforce.

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