CDI Corporation

4 Things to Expect in the Future of IT and Engineering Contracting

Have you heard of the “1099 economy”? It’s changing how companies operate today, and how IT and engineering contractors find work. The term describes the rising popularity of contract work as an alternative model to traditional, full-time employment. According to Advent Partners’ recent study: The State of Contingent Workforce Management 2015-2016, almost 35 percent of today’s workforce is comprised of non-employee workers, with nearly 70 percent of companies expecting significant growth in this area. The firm further asserts that given this environment, a workforce comprised of 50 percent non-employee talent, is not that far away.

In the 1099 economy, employers prioritize bringing on experts for targeted, shorter-term projects, or even indefinitely. Both sides of the partnership benefit. Companies see a strong return on investment and contractors have more flexibility in terms of when they choose to work, and the type of work assignments they take on.

The 1099 economy is relatively young, and there are still big changes ahead for it. To stay competitive as a contractor, it’s important to always be looking ahead. Here are four things to expect in the future of IT and engineering contracting:

1. Ultra-targeted skills will be in high demand
While the traditional notion is to have a diverse set of skills, the contracting sphere requires something different: extremely specialized knowledge and skills in one niche area. For example, in aerospace and more specifically Department of Defense (DoD) aerospace, the demand for highly skilled structural and stress engineers is continually growing. The technology in DoD aerospace is always evolving and they are building the most sophisticated flying machines in history. These two skill sets are extremely vital for building sound equipment, and require extremely bright and talented individuals.

As a growing number of companies look to streamline business processes, they will be looking to recruit contractors who can fill in specific knowledge gaps to help their organizations run more efficiently. To garner the best work opportunities, contractors will need to go above and beyond to demonstrate that they can provide highly specialized skills.

2. Business acumen will be vital
Technical skills alone won’t garner people the best contract work, especially those seeking assignments in the engineering and IT fields. A decade ago, these technical areas were often segmented from other business departments in an organization, with the two areas working separately on different goals. However, this is no longer true in today’s workplace as corporate leadership recognizes the importance of merging tech teams with the rest of the company. In the future of contracting, recruiters will be prioritizing contractors who not only have highly specialized technical skills, but are able to effectively communicate how these skills support the company’s larger business goals.

3. The nature of in-demand skills will shift
As the engineering and IT industries evolve, the nature of contract assignments will change. Though the need for certain areas of expertise will decrease, their skill sets will evolve to be more relevant to modern needs. For example, IT analysts note that mainframe development skills are already facing falling demand. However, this skill will not disappear – instead, there will be growing demand for contractors who have mainframe development abilities that incorporate web and mobile design and application. Contractors who want to be competitive should stay up-to-date in their field to anticipate how different skill sets will change.

4. Expertise in big data will be highly desired  
As previously mentioned, mobile and web skills will be in high demand in the future of IT and engineering contracting. However, another area that many assignments will involve is big data. The cloud is making it affordable for companies to take advantage of massive data storage and processing systems, and as a result, there is a rapidly rising need for IT and engineering contractors that can leverage these large amounts of data. Companies of all sizes will be looking for contractors that can sift through, analyze and draw conclusions from this data to forward business goals.

There is a dynamic future ahead for IT and engineering contracting, as companies seek out contractors with highly targeted technical and business skills. Exciting growth will occur as well, which will be aided by the evolution of traditional fields of expertise and the growing importance of mobile and big data.