Over the years, PAYE umbrella contractors in the IT skills market have acquired a reputation for their forward-thinking embrace of flexible working arrangements. However, a new study suggests that most of them actually rate job stability most highly in their list of priorities.

Specialist recruitment agency Elan commissioned the survey of 500 IT workers, asking them to rank their top three priorities for moving into a new role. From IT business analysts to those holding support or developer roles, IT contracting professionals are less the adventurous ‘guns-for-hire’ of popular mythology and more the conservatively security-seeking family men and women of everyday life.

Although the proportion of permanent workers who rated job stability as their top priority was highest (83%), a surprisingly high number of IT contractors shared their views – 67%.

The results suggest that contractors and permanent workers alike are being affected by the climate of economic uncertainty that hangs ominously over the UK at present. Moreover, it may also suggest that the IT contracting workforce today is a little older than it was a few years back – people in their thirties with family commitments and mortgages are more inclined to seek work stability than young adults in their twenties.

Flexibility about working hours, however, came in as the second highest priory, with 68% of permanent workers and 60% of contractors choosing it as the ‘runner up’ priority. Both groups selected technical training as their third priority in roughly equal measure.

IT contractors, it seems, are rather more ‘cuddly’ in their approach to working life than their folklore image suggests.

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