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Free of charge: The Forgotten Workforce


A joint research project of Monash University and Entity Solutions, this report looks at findings about the attitudes to the work of freelance consultants and those that engage them. The research has focused on face-face interviews with independent freelance consultants working in the IT industry and, a survey of the businesses that engage them. (PDF file, 14 pages, 300 KB).

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Unformated preview of the document: 'The Forgotten Workforce' (Part 7):

CV, I am willing to go into positions that forward that." (T10: J).
Self-efficacy can be increased in four ways: (1) through a successful track record, by (2) observing
others who are successful at the task, (3) by being persuaded that one can complete the task, and
(4) by reducing the physiological stress response. Although the physiological stress response may
be largely affected by the personality traits described above, and although each contractor will
ideally develop a successful track record over time, the remaining factors may be affected through
effective mentoring. Unfortunately, contractors may not always have access to these
opportunities. As one contractor notes:
"There is no one, someone with you to say you should look at this technology, look at this
technology and we will put you on a training course, see you there. If you don't, if you don't
have a goal where you want your career to go, as a contractor you could be stuck, you
could actually be stuck in one job as a full-time person effectively. No one will come up to
you and say, why don't you learn this, why don't you learn that. You just do the same job
day in and day out." (T8: T).
Relying upon a preliminary examination of on-line survey of organizations which utilize contract
workers and 25 interviews with persons employed as independent contractors, this report offers a
broad overview of some of the issues which are a part of the phenomenon of independent
contracting. To this point, it is reasonable to suggest that organizations that engage contractors as
well as the contractors themselves are not always in agreement about key issues. For example,
there is little agreement as to the appropriate level of control which independent contractors are
free to exercise over "how" the contracted work is performed or the types of jobs to which they are
assigned by an organization.
Based heavily on an initial evaluation of the interview data, the findings clearly suggest that
independent contractors' attitudes toward the contracting experience is strongly related to both
personality traits (e.g. emotional stability, and an internal locus of control), and the individual
contractors' assessments of their own abilities (i.e., self-efficacy). The interviews also revealed
that there was considerable variation among independent contractors concerning the degree to
which they believed that contracting did in fact provide them with the freedom or flexibility that they
believed should be inherent in contract-based work.
From this overview, it can be suggested that two lines of future investigation should be pursued as
it relates to the performance of work on an individual contract basis.
• The first broad issue is the need to better understand the functional arrangements which can
contribute to the professional skills and self-efficacy among individual contractors. Most
notably, in occupational areas where procedures, methods, and requisite skill sets are
frequently changing, what are the methods by which contractors can acquire the necessary
knowledge to keep themselves viable in the labour market? In an environment where the
"employing" organizations legally maintain an arm's length relationship, the question shifts to
what role and through what mechanisms can human capital improvements (e.g., training) be
made for contractors though contracting agencies, contracting management organisations
and/or professional contractor associations.
• Secondly, there is a need to further recognize that impendent contractors are not a
homogeneous community of professionals. At the individual contractor level, there appear to
be important differences among contractors in terms of their motivations to use this type of
employment arrangement, their ability to obtain a continual series of contracts, their desire and
capability to deal with organizational politics, as well as their concerns about the impact of less
structured work hours on their quality of life and work-life balance. In essence, the need exists
to more systematically indentify the personal characteristics and work experiences that affect
the attitudes of contract workers. This analysis will ultimately contribute to a continued
attachment to the career path of contracting, as opposed to exiting in search of more traditional
or permanent working arrangements.
ABS. 2004. Forms of Employment, Australia. Nov 2004 6359.0
ABS. 2006. Forms of Employment Survey

Unformated preview of the document: 'The Forgotten Workforce':  Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

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