Contract workers are increasingly fueling the United States’ economic engine. To understand how these consultants are becoming a vital part of the labor market, consider this data from a recent poll conducted by National Public Radio and the Marist Institute for Public Opinion:
- Contract workers hold 20 percent of jobs in America.
- Within 10 years, freelance and contractor workers may comprise 50 percent of America’s workforce.
- Nearly two-thirds of contract workers are younger than 45.
Translation: Business owners are filling mission-critical roles through contract arrangements. To ensure a long-term career as a contractor or consultant, it’s important to stay on top of emerging skill sets and positions within your industry that are in high demand.
While contract roles are available in virtually every industry, here are some industries where new contract roles are emerging:
1. Information Technology
Few industries are moving at a faster pace than technology, which is in a perpetual state of growth, as what’s considered state-of-the-art today can become seemingly obsolete overnight. This is a result of consumers’ unquenchable desire for the next best thing. As such, IT firms need individuals who have the skills to keep up with consumer demands. Contractors frequently have these desired skill sets. Data from Staffing Industry Analysts show software developers, engineers, cloud architects, programmers and data security technicians are some of the most sought-after positions employers are looking to fill for the foreseeable future. Driverless cars, for example, are in the process of being mass-produced by several well-known brands. Contract workers possess the skills and understanding of how computers and the software installed in cars will literally drive the automobiles of tomorrow.
The scientific breakthroughs and treatments of today wouldn’t be possible without the scientists and clinicians that led to their discovery. Last year was a particularly successful year for the segment, with revenues up 5 percent, according to Staffing Industry Analysts. Eager to continue the growth trend, employers in the sector are still hiring, but qualified help – as in many other lines of work – is proving difficult to find. To bridge the supply gap, businesses are recruiting contractors so they can work in remote capacities where possible. Companies specializing in pharmaceuticals, biotech and medical devices are leading the recruitment effort. Mergers and acquisitions have become a frequent occurrence, particularly in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, making contractors a valuable workforce solution for companies that need to ramp up or scale down in response to drug development needs.
Just as automation is impacting the auto industry, the same is true in banking, as customers take advantage of online, and other forms of automated intelligence that cater to account holders’ on-the-go lifestyles. Some suggest the move toward AI signals the ends of branches, but in reality, banks still need financial professionals so they can perform the functions that AI can’t, like customizing loan products. According to Accenture Research, the embracing of AI is expected to increase employment by nearly 10 percent in the financial services sector between 2018 and 2022. Contractors can fill this need.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, healthcare accounts for nearly one-fifth of the U.S. economy. So it only makes sense that the industry would be looking for experienced professionals. The need is partially due to a greater percentage of Americans who now have health insurance, with the uninsured rate at just 12 percent, based upon recent polling from Gallup. Some of the biggest employment gains have transpired over the last few years as a result of the mandates codified in the Affordable Care Act. Even though the future of the ACA is uncertain, economists and staffing experts fully anticipate the hiring trend to continue, with national health expenditures poised to rise by at least 5 percent in 2019, according to projections from Staffing Industry Analysts. Demand is particularly high for nurses in advanced practice specialties, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Their necessity derives from a combination of factors. Primary care physicians aren’t as prevalent as they used to be due in part to the costs associated with attending medical school and an aging population that require more health-related services.
Ultimately, companies are seeking the best and brightest contractors, to help deliver quality products and services that maximize customer satisfaction. Keeping track of industry trends and continually building your skillset will ensure your longevity as a career contractor.