Don’t sit on the fence – professional contracting under the magnifying glass

PULSE_Don’t sit on the fence – professional contracting  under the magnifying glass

I’m going to use this blog post to urge the professional contracting sector – and I’m not only talking to ITCRA Members  – but to those of you who represent contracting and recruitment companies in the professional sector including contractor management and payroll to join us in a forum titled Defining the Future: Professional Contracting Going Forward.

This event, on Thursday April 7, aims to bring thought leaders together to agree (or not) on the best descriptors for different forms of contractor engagement.

As we all know, we work in a sector that uses a multitude of different terms that confuses regulators, governments and even contractors and client.

So, in an effort to respond to the need for consistency of terminology to describe contracting, the Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association (ITCRA) is holding an industry forum to canvas your views on the matter. I love a good debate and all my instincts tell me this will be a classic.

In my view, clarity of contractor descriptors is critical from both a positioning and a regulatory perspective, as we all need to be having conversations using the same terms and agreed definitions.

This is not a new issue. ITCRA addressed this in our submissions on the Proposed Employment Industry Code and the Victorian Inquiry into the labour hire industry and insecure work. And it has been a hot topic of discussion in our CEO’s Circle discussions over the past two years – but from a compliance rather than a language perspective.

However, now is the perfect time to achieve language uniformity and clarity to ensure the contribution that professional contractors make to the economy is recognised and not continually challenged.

Similar discussions are already happening overseas and Europe is leading the way. We are following this through ITCRA’s relationship with the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

So with the momentum occurring overseas the ITCRA Board believed it was timely to join the international discussion and we believe the professional contracting and recruitment sector should come together to analyse the landscape, look at the facts and determine the terminology that we want to take forward.

So how will it work?  Be prepared – it will be hands on!

You can contribute to a consensus on the descriptors for different types of contractors by actively participating in facilitated workshops and then voting on options put forward. The hoped for outcome of the forum will see an agreed set of descriptors to be used in policy and positioning discussions for the future and, ultimately used across the sector.

So, if you want to have your say, here are the details of this important event:

Defining the future: Professional Contracting Going Forward will be held on Thursday April 7 at Crowne Plaza. 1-5 Spencer Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 from 9.00am to 2.30pm. Registrations are available through ITCRA Events.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Have you noticed your annual leave can go on and on …….


PULSE_Have you noticed your annual...Not sure if this bugs everyone else but…. I have just had some annual leave and stayed in a number of locations, ate at a range of restaurants, did some tours etc – all booked online with contact details as you do! Now I am inundated with feedback requests and reminders for feedback.

Feedback is important  – but seriously, the questions need to lead to something more than a rating and a testimonial to publish.  And they need to be pro-actively analysed and used to create change.

This newsletter , in my reading file, was saved for a reason I have realised and so it is re-published to reinforce the need for a re-think on the whole “recommendation” process.

With thanks to Leading Matters whose networking lunches are some of the smartest programs I have ever attended – I am including the entire content of the newsletter here and, more importantly I am adding a link to this message in the surveys I have completed to date because the points are important. Note this is not a testimonial on behalf of an ITCRA Member or Supporter – it is just something I think is really worth considering.

Have you noticed this question in surveys?

“Would you recommend us to others?” 

Some would argue it’s the “ultimate question”. We’d argue that it depends on why you’re asking it.

If your business seeks to engage with clients and is committed to continuous improvement, this question, on its own, is flawed.

Why?  3 reasons:

  1. If the answer is “yes”, do you know why they would recommend?
  2. If the answer is “no”, do you know why not?
  3. If the answer is “yes” does the respondent know how to recommend? 

A solution:
  Add the following questions

  • What is it about <xxx> that makes you happy to recommend us?
  • What can we do to improve to earn your recommendation?

If it’s a written survey, add:

  • Would you be OK if we contacted you personally about your responses?

If the survey is anonymous, include a Yes/No option for this question and provision for contact details.

Don’t just use the standard format every time – the questions must be relevant so ensure you are:

  • developing engaging questionnaires for surveys
  • reviewing your survey process to maximise client engagement and feedback

And yes we have taken note of this for surveys ITCRA issues to Members and you have permission to call us to account if the questions lead nowhere or feedback doesn’t result in change.

Have you delighted a customer lately?

Julie_webI’m sure you’ve heard of the term “delighting a customer”, where organisations make a great impression on a customer by going just the little bit further than expected. Well, I’m very glad to say ITCRA had one of these moments recently.

As an industry association one of the key benefits we provide to the employment sector is information – not always at our fingertips but, like the octopus with a brain on every tentacle, we have a bank of ‘knowledge’, resources and contacts.

And, I have to say, the questions often come from unexpected quarters which makes for interesting conversations around the meeting table when we report on the latest requests to the Research Committee.

Here’s what happened recently. I received a call from a global technology corporation with an office in remote regional Australia who was looking for information about rates for ICT contractors in their area. They were not having any luck sourcing the information they needed, as much of data was related to capital cities.

However, Google soon lead them to ITCRA. They found the ITCRA Trends Report cited on several IT trade news and blog sites but no mention of their particular setting.

So they picked up the phone and were discussing their challenge with me and asked if we might have any remuneration data on the roles they were looking to recruit in their region. Not a problem was my confident answer – as I knew there would be someone in our “knowledge” bank who could find the answer.

Within minutes I was in touch with our research experts at BurningGlass and gave them a quick brief. Soon after, BurningGlass were mining their data and comparing various roles and rates. Within 40 minutes of taking the initial call I had a market summary and rate estimates from BurningGlass and was sharing it with the global company, along with the latest Trends Report that didn’t cover the specific region in question but did profile Members who participate in our “market knowledge” program – SkillsMatch.

The response was, “Thanks for the email. Wow! This data is impressive – and in such a short turnaround. There are some differences in what I am seeing in the market here but it gives me a validated starting point – accepting it is based on a sample from your source”

This caller was expecting to wait days before receiving a response, not minutes. I think saying he was “delighted” is an understatement.

Did I make a sale with this? No.

Did I get a new Member? No.

Did I do my job? Yes because:

  • ITCRA delivered on its commitment to provide business intelligence to the market and to profile ITCRA Members
  • A global company who engages contractors now knows the ITCRA brand and the names of all companies who support the knowledge program (ie SkillsMatch Partners)
  • BurningGlass demonstrated its agility and its responsiveness to a quite challenging request and validated its place as a Gold Partner.

In continuing with the knowledge theme ITCRA has just released the ICT Employment Trends report for Q4 (Oct-Dec) 2015.

The results in this quarter’s Report reflect the continued trend of a slight shift in the proportion of roles in the market away from contract towards permanent positions. In the last quarter of 2015, 16% of new roles were for permanent positions. This has risen from 9% since the start of the year. Interestingly there was a jump in the proportion of permanent roles in New South Wales to 20%, whereas the previous high was 13%. To my NSW network reading this – is there something happening in NSW that can explain this spike or is it an anomaly?

Our analysis of market activity, in terms of the time it takes to fill roles, showed that across Australia the average time to fill permanent roles has decreased during 2015 from 67 to 45 days – is this a sign we are moving towards a buyer’s market?

We are also noticing a shift in the remuneration relationship between contract and permanent roles. Contract roles appear to be decreasing in value compared to over a year ago. Nationally, contractors’ average hourly rates have shifted from earning 58% more than permanent roles in Q1 2015, to now earning 23% more.

My instincts tell me that this trend will not continue given the size of the country’s contractor market. Rather, this is perhaps a reflection a shift of senior level roles moving from contract to permanent positions.

You can visit to contribute data or subscribe to the report … and delight your customers with your knowledge (with a little bit of help from ITCRA)!