With limited government support available, many independent professionals are facing the prospect of more uncertainty regarding their contracts, future earnings and way of working. Although experts agree that temporary workers will be in demand in the medium-to-long-term as the economy recovers, the country is still very much in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Previously, as lockdown measures were lifted, a demand for temporary workers over permanent placements was noted. However, the second wave of Covid-19 has once again severely impacted many sectors just as they were beginning to get back on their feet. As bottom lines are hit hard, contractors, alongside many permanent employees, may face work shortages.
Contracting has always been a career choice where mental wellbeing needs greater consideration because of the typically remote set-up. A recent study showed that independents are almost twice more likely than 9-to-5 staff to struggle with mental health issues directly because of their atypical employment.
The survey also revealed that two-thirds of contractors are worried about the effects of Covid-19 on their business. On top of this, 68 per cent continue to be concerned about the upcoming IR35 reform from April 6th 2021. Neither is the question of upskilling or retraining always a straightforward one. As the backlash to government’s controversial “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot” advertising campaign recently demonstrated, it’s naïve to expect people with specialist skills to simply hop into a different career lane.
While retraining could provide a valuable avenue for some, it’s certainly not a quick-fix solution. Retraining takes time and resource and needs careful consideration. Although the government have set up various schemes to help people identify new work opportunities, it’s difficult to anticipate what future demand will be in the midst of ongoing uncertainty.
What’s clear is that there will be a different emphasis on skills at various stages of the country’s recovery, with adaption perhaps the most crucial skill of all. While it’s not realistic to think of contractors as quick fix magicians who can pull any skill out of the bag, it’s about identifying where your core skills can add value to an organisation’s survival plan, both now and in the future.
When it comes to upskilling and fine-tuning your skills, think strategically. Look for areas of consistent growth and security in the marketplace, but look closely at the demand for specific skills within these areas. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also its ripple effects such as the more widespread adoption of automated processes, means that various industries could experience fundamental changes at different times.
For example, statistics might show that demand for IT skills is growing, yet IT is an extremely broad area, as well as one that can move at a rapid pace. While some IT skills are in demand, others are becoming redundant as the key requirements of businesses change. Most sectors require IT, but developing key skills that align with the direction of change will allow you to move between sectors, and therefore to build security into your contracting career.
Other ways of building security into contracting might include signing up with an agency that can give you access to a greater range of assignments, or handing your admin over to an accountant or umbrella company. Sometimes, simplifying your contracting model can help you focus on your career and make decisions about the direction you want to take.
Taking simple steps to minimise stress and to make things manageable will be important for contractors in the coming months. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t find work, it’s crucial to remember that you’re not alone. Many skilled individuals will face the same issue, yet the situation is neither permanent, nor a reflection of your professional worth.
This may be a time evaluate, but it’s also a time to take care of yourself. While work can bring satisfaction and financial security, it can also bring stress and stagnation. Whatever direction your career might take, your ability to execute your role with confidence and self-belief is key. With this in mind, time spent on your mental and physical wellbeing is always a wise investment, with the odds favouring a positive return.
If you’re starting a new contract, ContractingWISE have a range of hassle-free services that can help you set up a fast and efficient payroll. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679