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The Growing Contract Market in Northern Ireland

4 April 2016

There has been an increasing demand for skilled professionals to provide support to businesses on a short term contract basis, particularly within the Professional Services vertical in Northern Ireland. We have witnessed a marked uplift in demand for daily rate contractors locally across the main Banks, ‘Big 4’ Practices, Software houses and large Legal firms to support business critical projects within the last 12 months.

Factors driving the demand for Contractors in NI

The demand for Contract staff tends to be reactive, and is driven by a number of factors including:

  • Continued ‘war on talent’ across the IT and A&F sectors: due to the increased demand and competition for highly qualified and experienced professional’s, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to back fill key roles with ‘time to hire’ ratios extending significantly, creating a requirement for skilled contractors to support in the short term.
  • Continued success of key players within the Professional Services Arena: Belfast is continuing to outperform other regions in the UK regarding large, inward investment projects, and in the last 5 years we have seen a number of large global players enter the market. As their teams mature and performance is measured favourably, the volume of work being directed to Belfast is increasing significantly. Contract staff are required to support the effective ‘on-boarding’ of teams and to support delivery.
  • Restructuring projects: particularly within Banking, we have experienced a number of large scale restructuring projects significantly impacting on the permanent population. Specialist contractors have been engaged across core areas to ensure ‘business as usual’ service is maintained while this process is completed, or to support with specific work streams.
  • Business Transformation: As the economy continues to recover, we are witnessing a renewed confidence in the market. Organisations are once again looking to invest in their technology, people and product offering and require short term, external expertise to support or drive business transformation projects.


Key Skills Required

Within the IT sector, demand tends to be across support and technical areas including business analysis, project management and software development. Specifically, the Fintech industry is booming the most with BA’s, Big Data specialists and Infrastructure Engineers in high demand.

Big Data talent has and will continue to intensify as companies realise the value utilising the mountains of data they possess to their advantage and with this the informed business decision they can make. Secondly, Business Analysts, once data has been gathered it’s left to these professionals to analyse it and work out how to rework business processes and operations to include data moving forward.

Third is Infrastructure Engineers, there would be no need for the previous two skills/roles without infrastructure engineers. Infrastructure Engineers design and develop infrastructure that allows data to be captured and analysed and are sought-after as a result of the growing need to maximise the use of big data.

As well as these three, there has also been significant demand for Mobile Specialist following changes to Google Algorithms. Having a mobile-friendly site has gone from being an optional extra to a must-have for businesses. Experts in this field are likely to have a number of job and contract offers to choose from. Web developers and User Experience specialists have also continued to be highly pursued.

Although the Accounting / Financial Services contractor vertical has less volume, post-recession the “Clean up and Compliance Crews” are still in demand around Audit and Compliance, Risk & Regulation as well as Business Analysis and Business Transformation.

At MCS Group, we have witnessed a 300% increase in demand for talent on an interim or contract basis across our client population. The market is extremely buoyant, particularly for those professionals who are mobile and flexible to travel throughout the UK and Ireland based on demand.


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