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A ringing endorsement from some politician called Dave

A ringing endorsement from some politician called Dave

I really must think about writing these jottings earlier in the week. I routinely find myself talking about things that have just happened rather than predicting what’s about to happen. Although, of course, that does mean I can be a little more accurate in what I’m saying. Better late than never I suppose…

But this week’s major news in contractor world was PCG’s third National Freelancer Day, which as we all know is held on November 23rd. This is an event that celebrates the role of the freelance worker in today’s economy and is primarily aimed at ensuring the value they bring to the UK is recognised.

The event is going from strength to strength, with ever increasing participation. It was picked up in a wide range of places, including the Twitterverse and a host of freelancer websites. More importantly it not only the mainstream press but we even got a mention from Evan Davies on Radio 4 and a ringing endorsement of the freelance profession from some politician called Dave, who said “This Government recognises the valuable contribution that freelancers make to the economy and, as more and more people choose to join your ranks, you have all our support”. He’ll go far, that lad, you just watch.

So PCG are to be congratulated on a job well done. Again.

Elsewhere though, things are giving off mixed messages. There has been a lot hand-wringing about rate cuts and job losses affecting contractors. Which is quite worrying, with all this fear of double-dips (still think that sounds like an ice cream) until, that is, you look a little more closely.

These cuts are only happening in banking and finance. Other people aren’t seeing cuts in rate – I know I’m not, if a sample of one is useful – and others are actually saying they’ve got a raise in rate. There are plenty of reported contract extensions out there as well. Just not in banking. How odd.

Another point, if you are of a suspicious mind like me, is that all the banks are cutting by the same rate, a precise 10%. Nice round number, of course, but it is just a little odd that they all see the need to make the same cut regardless of how well or how absolutely dreadfully they are faring. One might even think they were working to the same hymn sheet. Surely not: they are, after all, in competition for the best resources and paying a shade more than the competition is one way to secure them.

But hey, these are banks, after all. It’s not like we expect them to understand economics or anything. So it must just be a fluke of timing and cost accountancy.

Ah but, it’s also interesting to note the response of the guys being hit by these cuts. The proportion that react with “That’s it, I’ll go somewhere else” to those whose reaction is “90% of something is better than 100% of nothing so I’m staying” has reversed totally, with the latter group now prevailing. Mostly that’s because the feel there aren’t the jobs out there to be had, which is understandable. And in fact they’re probably right; the vacancies created by the macho “I’m outa here” brigade don’t exist so there is nowhere to go. Rather than a big round robin with the worst performers falling off the bottom, as happened last time around, everyone has stayed on their chairs. And that, if you’re the banks, is actually something of a result; keep the same staff, no retraining needed, and 10% of quite a lot of money to feed into the bonus pot.

OK, so perhaps the banks aren’t all that stupid after all.

About the author: Alan Watts

Alan has worked in IT for most of the last 35 years, and first went freelance in 1996. He has been a PCG member from its start and has been spreading the message that freelancing is a professional career choice for many years. Alan also runs Malvolio’s Blog, a personal but highly informative take on the life of the modern freelance.

Alan Watts, Principal Consultant, LPW Computer Services

© 2011 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Image: Facing My Manga by Rob Boudon

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