A new study from specialist recruitment giant Experis shows that more than three quarters (76%) of British businesses make extensive use of IT contractors, well ahead of the international average.

The research polled executives responsible for hiring IT employees across ten countries. UK businesses emerge as amongst those at the leading edge of the trend for tapping this talent pool. By proportion, the UK has more IT contractors than some the planet’s most advanced economies, including Germany (40%), Japan (65%) and even the US (66%).

With more professional techies opting each year for contracting through Umbrella Companies in favour of salaried roles, and businesses altering their permanent in-house teams in such a way that the old “IT department” of yore is changing out of all recognition to a far more stripped down entity, the trend amongst employers is shifting. According to Experis Europe’s MD Geoff Smith, business leaders are increasingly seeing IT talent as a strategic change agent instead of the permanent operational cost centre it once was.

He said: “As the gap between employer demand and available talent continues to widen, we are seeing more UK organisations using contractors as a go-to workforce planning solution, rather than a temporary means to cover shortfalls in permanent positions. Alongside this, they are recognising that the use of contractors can bring greater cost savings in the long term and flexible work flow options, which will be vital in 2016 and beyond.”

In the UK, he added, the use of IT contractors has become a well-established solution for the growing talent shortage.

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