In the IT sector, more and more companies need extra resources and as a result are increasingly using the services of freelancers and consultants for temporary assignments.
“There has never been a better time to go out on your own as an IT consultant or micro-entrepreneur,” says Caroline De Guire, president and CEO of the Association québécoise des informaticiens et informaticiennes indépendants (AQIII). Has the number of freelancers and consultants increased? “Our reading of the field and statistics is that in the last four or five years, there has been a strong upward trend,” she says.
First of all, Caroline De Guire mentions the strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that exists in Quebec. “It’s unique, and means that when it comes time to go out on your own, on the one hand it’s achievable and on the other it’s respected,” she says.
In addition, in the IT sector, contracts tend to be fairly long term (an average of 15.9 months per assignment). This provides some stability for self-employed workers.
Furthermore, one of the benefits for SMEs and companies is that they will benefit much more quickly from increased technology transfer. “Freelancers learn much faster and are also operational much faster, it’s a real strength,” says Caroline De Guire. In addition, freelancers and consultants are more educated on average. According to figures from the AQIII, 73% of them have a bachelors, masters or doctors degree.
In addition, the increase in cooperative university programs can also explain the popularity of self-employment. “It makes it possible to try consulting, because it’s all about small projects over a defined period,” explains Caroline De Guire.
According to the the sectoral diagnosis by TECHNOCompétences, more than 20,500 ICT professional in Quebec were active in 2016 as self-employed workers, about 10% of the sector’s workforce. The AQII, which now has about 1,800 independent consultants and micro-entrepreneurs, has registered a 158% increase in membership over the last five years.
“We are in a situation of full employment, even though we are not talking in terms of jobs!,” Caroline De Guire says. Indeed, based on the AQII site, more than 3,900 contracts are posted annually, a ratio of two contracts for each self-employed worker.
In IT, self-employed workers essentially occupy three professions: computer analysts and consultants, interactive media programmers and developers, and web designer-developers.