The Bright Reality of Contract Work

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Temporary and contract jobs aren’t what they used to be. Contract employees in the U.S. are making a bigger impact than ever before. And it also means that the role of contract employees is evolving. Recent trends might challenge some of your assumptions about what it means to be a contract employee.

The American Staffing Association reports that 15 million Americans are hired through a staffing agency for contract work each year. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more temporary help service employees right now than there have been in over 25 years.

Here’s what’s driving change in the industry:

Companies are having a hard time finding employees

Forty percent of employers say they can’t fill open positions, according to a McKinsey Global Institute study. Considering many haven’t fully recovered from the sting of the Great Recession, it may be hard to believe there’s a growing shortage of job candidates.

Many employers point to the “skills gap”; there simply aren’t enough employees with the training needed for the jobs that are available, especially in technical fields like engineering. Temporary and contract employees have become a solution to the problem.

Contract employees are making a real difference

In an environment where employers are having more trouble than ever finding qualified employees, contract employees fill a vital role: They keep companies moving forward, especially in complex, highly skilled fields.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review notes, “Many of these independent professionals are increasingly being engaged to do strategic, high-value-add work requiring deep expertise. They can be called upon to staff high-level projects that were previously too expensive to hire employees to work on full time.”

Now more than ever, contract employees are finding fulfillment and engagement in the workplace.

Contract work is not business as usual

Contract employees do more than just fill available jobs. They keep America running:

  • Government agencies like FEMA and the Small Business Administration hire contract employees to help with disaster relief efforts.
  • Tech giants bring on contract employees to help their algorithms filter out hate speech.
  • Retailers and logistics companies have huge surges in hiring for the holiday season.
  • According to the AMA report on staffing industry statistics, contract employees “work in virtually all occupations in all sectors.”

Facts about contract employees

The American Staffing Association does an annual survey of contract employees to help understand how they feel about the work they do. The results may surprise you:

  • 90 percent of contract employees said contract work made them more employable.
  • More than three out of every four contracts are for a full-time work schedule.
  • Three out of four contract workers said they were “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their staffing company or recruiting partner.
  • Each year 35 percent of contractors are offered permanent positions with a client they were hired to help.

These numbers paint an interesting picture about contract employees: They are getting valuable work experience, receiving income from mostly full-time positions that offer a significant opportunity for permanent employment, all while building relationships that satisfy their professional networking needs.

When you take into account how much contract employees are needed, how valuable their contributions are and how much they benefit from the experience, the role of “contract employee” has become a career game-changer.

Learn more

Want to hear more about the value of contract employment? Browse some past articles on the subject, such as “Top Five Myths About Working with a Staffing Agency,” “How to Help Your Recruiter Find You a Great Job” and “Why It’s a Great Time to Be a Contract Employee.”

Aerotek recruiters are available to provide advice you can use.

Aerotek® Inc. was recognized in Inavero’s 2017 Best of Staffing® Client and Talent Awards. The awards recognize staffing agencies that have proven superior service quality based completely on the ratings given to them by their contract employees and clients. This marks the second consecutive year that Aerotek has been named Best of Staffing for both client and contract employees, a designation achieved by less than two percent of all staffing companies in North America.

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