Contracting IT professionals have a new opportunity to land assignments with PwC, the world’s largest professional services firm, following the launch of an online marketplace that will match IT freelancers with its internal projects.

The new online platform goes by the name “Talent Exchange” and connects assignment-seeking independent IT professionals directly with PwC teams. Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals in the IT field simply register, upload their CVs and apply to work on a raft of PwC’s client projects, from product life-cycle management to IT implementations to anti-money laundering operations.

With his eye firmly trained on flexible professional talent, PwC’s global chairman Bob Moritz said that the new platform is designed to provide PwC with the ability to “bring in the right talent in the right place at the right time” by tapping the growing shift toward flexible employment, in which rising numbers of people are choosing temporary freelance positions or short-term contracts.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Moritz said “We know when you look around the world, that an increasing number of people will want to be more of an independent contractor than a full-time employee.

“So the question is, how do I quickly scale up my own technology and recruitment processes to change, so I can bring third-party independent contractors to the table, as opposed to full-time hires?”

Advocacy group Freelancers Union and global freelancing platform Upwork produced a joint study last year, which showed that over one in three US workers, nearly 54 million people, were freelancing, with 60 per cent doing so by choice – a rise of 7 per cent on 2014, the previous year.

The “Talent Exchange” went live on 8th February. By Friday 4th March, over 4,650 IT contractors had registered, ranging from professionals in their 20s to 50s.

Mr Moriitz added “What we may do today may not be the mix tomorrow, and may be different five years from now.

The challenge for PwC – and I’d argue, any professional services firm – is how you get more agility in the place to be able to scale up and scale down, whatever the opportunities are.”

A dark cloud on the horizon, which Mr Moritz’s upbeat unveiling of the new platform omitted to mention, is the impending impact on contracting professionals of the abolition of tax relief on their usually considerable travel and subsistence expenses from April this year. By extending the definition of “supervision direction or control” (SDC) to independent workers, HMRC has effectively re-designated them as employees for tax purposes only. As a result, they may be far less willing to travel lengthy distances to temporary workplaces as they currently do.

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