Programmers shift out of the office

The tech industry is moving towards contractors and younger and mid-career workers might need to prepare to make a living solo.

More than 18 percent of all IT workers are self-employed, according to an analysis by Emergent Research.

The self-employed IT workforce is growing at the rate of about seven percent yearly, which is faster than the overall growth rate for independent workers generally, at 5.5 percent.

Steve King, a partner at Emergent, said the growth in independent workers is being driven by companies that want to stay ahead of change, and can bring in workers with the right skills.

He said that was all happening so quickly and everyone is trying to figure out how to be more flexible and agile, cut fixed costs and move to variable costs.

In house people are seen as a fixed cost so something needs to be done about it, he said.

Much of the boost might be down to the recession. Many analysts expect large IT organizations to step up hiring in 2014, which may cause the percentage of contract workers to decline back to a more normal 10 percent level.

However it is also possible that new hiring will be even more contract labour as employers have become used to the more flexible use of staff.