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Companies encouraged to take advantage of open talent economy

August 12, 2013 | Posted at 11:41 am

IT freelancers are expected to form a larger part of the workforce in the coming months as employers take advantage of what is being referred to as the “open talent economy.”

This 21st century hiring trend is being driven by the need for companies to bring in a range of temporary staff and contract workers to get tasks completed sooner rather than later, according to The Washington Post. The information technology sector has always been one area where transient staff members are able to find regular employment, especially when considering a perceived talent gap that is seemingly prevalent throughout the industry.

Increase in demand
In recent months, there have been a number of resources that have tapped into the freelance market, with studies showing that there has been a significant increase in demand for software engineers and computer programmers that can demonstrate specific skills or program knowledge. For example, data collated by two leading freelance websites showed that businesses have already spent 335 percent more on network and security jobs in 2013 then throughout the whole of last year, while requests for specialists in Mac OS app development has risen by 178 percent.

“There’s a very high demand and low supply of the talent that’s required within the workforce,” said Andrew Liakopoulos, a principal at Deloitte Human Capital who co-authored a recent report on the freelance hiring trend. “They’ve been forced to look at other ways to meet that supply. Cost pressures can play a role in the use of freelancers. But many younger tech workers also value the flexibility of freelance jobs. Since technology work is often project based, it’s easy for freelancers to bid on discrete projects.”

However, while the development of a more freelance-based workforce is unlikely to fit into the more traditional requirements of the job market, there are those who believe that the ability to tap into unattached talent is a good thing. According to Shane Snow, the co-founder of media-based freelance site Contently, the chance to be a gun for hire can be very tempting for workers.

In a blog post on LinkedIn – considered by many to be a significant player in the new wave of hiring techniques – Snow argued that it was entirely possible that over 50 percent of American workers would fit into the category of independent workers. In Snow’s opinion, there were several reasons why this it could be become the norm for companies to look to save costs by bringing in outside help, especially in industries that are heavily dependent on technology.

Valuable commodity
Some of these are already considered to be standard practice, such as the increased influence of the internet and the growth of flexible hours or workplace. Snow also cites the fact that 75 percent of the workforce will be Millenials in less than 12  years, potentially the first generation of workers that have grown up not knowing a time without access to the information contained on the Web.

What this means – especially for IT workers – is that specialization is extremely likely to become a valuable commodity in terms of securing employment, although Snow doesn’t believe that companies will ever completely dispense with what are considered to be core employees. However, it does allow employers to identify what they need at any one time and, with contract workers seen to be a growing part of the national workforce, he sees a bright future for those with the right skills.

“A freelance model means we don’t need to waste money on extra capacity, and even if we pay more per unit, everyone can win,” Snow wrote. “What I’m predicting is that for highly skilled jobs where things like domestic labor and face time and communications skills are important to the employer, a freelance model has advantages that will continue to push the market toward independent workers.”