Pay rates for Umbrella Company Employees contracting in the IT sector are soaring on an unprecedented scale as the gig economy takes off, the latest Tech Cities Job Watch Survey from Experis has found.

Over the last 12 months, day rates for IT contractors skyrocketed by 9.11 per cent on average – nearly twice the year-on-year growth of permanent salaries, which climbed by 4.61 per cent.  Contracting IT professionals currently enjoy an average day rate of £431.

Self-employment (a category that includes independent contracting and freelancing) has now reached a 40-year high and comprises approximately 15 per cent of the UK workforce. For many who have chosen this path, the freelance dream of higher pay and increased work flexibility has been realised.

The report tracked IT jobs advertised in Q2 2016 across five major tech disciplines: IT security, cloud, big data, web development and mobile. The data reveals that demand amongst employers for IT contractors has exceeded that for permanent workers, growing by 2.23 per cent annually against 1.95 per cent for permanent roles.

Commenting on the findings, Experis MD Geoff Smith said that the proliferation of digital platforms driving gig working has made it easy for IT pros to turn freelance and for hirers to tap a worldwide talent pool.

He added: “With their skills highly sought after, IT experts can demand a premium as well as have their pick of projects. This trend is only set to rise. 69 per cent of IT managers will become increasingly reliant on temp staff to plug the growing skills gap and they believe 28 per cent of their workforce needs to be employed on a contingent basis to achieve tech transformation. As we navigate through times of uncertainty following Brexit, a flexible workforce that can be quickly scaled up or down will be more attractive too.”

The largest year-on-year increase in day rates arose in the cloud discipline, which saw contractor pay soaring by 11.34 per cent. IT security took second place with a year-on-year rise of 4.98 per cent, with mobile coming in third at 3.49 per cent.

For permanent roles, big data took the number-one slot with the highest average salary – £65,587 – while IT security came in second place at £58,003.

Drawing attention to the growing threat of cyber attacks as criminals take advantage of tech developments to become more sophisticated, Smith urged contract and permanent IT professionals to upskill in cyber-security by completing certified courses and training. Demand for IT security professionals is climbing vigorously, he observed, and employers are prepared to offer generous remuneration to contractors and permanent staff to attract the talent that they need because skills are in such short supply.

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