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Even as the economy continued to rebound and the national unemployment rate dropped to 5% in 2015, contract staffing maintained a strong presence in the U.S. economy. This points to further adoption of the blended workforce model (which more and more companies prefer due to the agility it grants them), and shows that contracting is in it for the long haul.

Healthcare (41% of placements)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) vastly increased the number of insured individuals who can seek health care.  ACA change initiatives also required providers to overhaul some of their core processes. Finally, Baby Boomers are retiring in droves from healthcare roles, and their generation also requires more care as it ages. These factors place growing stress on medical infrastructures, and providers are scrambling to find enough white-collar healthcare professionals to keep up. Contractors provide business solutions for this need.

  • #1 contract role in 2015: Occupational Therapist.

Engineering/Manufacturing/Scientific (13%)

The biggest factor here is the technical skills gap, from unfilled top-level engineering roles down to a lack of skilled manufacturing technicians. It won’t be getting better anytime soon: Over the next decade, 2 million of an estimated 3.5 million jobs available will remain unfilled due to the skills gap. Businesses turn to white-collar contractors to fill the gaps in their workforces.

  • #1 contract role in 2015: Quality Engineer.

Information Technology (13%)

There were 35% more contract placements in this sector last year than in 2014, despite the fact that IT averaged only 2.5% annual job growth for the year. Businesses may be increasing their use of IT contractors to hedge their bets against an uncertain global economic picture. This is an easy area to implement the blended workforce strategy, since IT professionals have a long history of embracing contract work.

  • #1 contract role in 2015: Software Developer/Engineer.

Finance/Accounting (12%)

Low unemployment (2-3%) in this sector equals a tight market for talent. Experienced workers have the bargaining power. More and more of them demand flexibility and work/life balance. Businesses engage contractors to cover their talent gaps and offer workers the flexibility they require.

  • #1 contract role in 2015: Accountant.

Legal/HR/Recruiting (11%)

To remain competitive, businesses need top talent. However, it is getting harder and harder for them to find the skilled workers they need. The tightening employment market led businesses to seek recruiting help from contract talent acquisition professionals in 2015.

  • #1 contract role in 2015: Contract Recruiter.

Sales/Marketing (4%)

According to the Wall Street Journal, there can be a long training period for new sales hires until businesses realize a profit. This means bad direct-hires must be avoided at all cost. Contract-to-direct roles allow businesses to evaluate workers’ sales skills in real-time before extending a direct offer of employment.

  • #1 contract role in 2015: Sales Screener.

No matter the market you work as a recruiter, contract staffing opportunities should be on your radar in 2016. Fortunately, it is quick and easy to add contract staffing to your services with a back-office by your side.

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