...and I'm sure that it's fairly comfortable right now knowing that a company will look bad dropping you, while it will look good dropping the contractors (like me).
I have to admit it, I'm getting increasingly sensitive to the plight of people getting laid off in North America, hoping this trend doesn not come my way anytime soon.
Have fun in permie land, and enjoy the shade.
Hmmm. Just in terms of my situation, I know that we can get another headcount through contrating, but there is NO way we can get another permanent body on staff. I think we actually lost more perm staff than contract staff with our last trimming. It's a tough call.
Most of the IT staff that work with LAN/WAN were taken off perm. status and 'traded' to a contract company. (They actually had options, but many took the 'Work for someone else, but stay here and do the same job' choice - It lowers over all staffing/HR costs).
Being the only current application designer on a multimillion dolar investment is one of the only reasons I'm "Indispensible" at the moment. I have no illusions that the sidewalk can end if this project dies or changes hands. My lovely employer has made that clear.
The industry as a whole is settling now. IMHO, we should see a resurgence of IT need over the next 6 months. Most companies see trimming the headcount as the best cost savings and although I understand why this happens, I disagree that it is the best way. As the industry settles over the rest of the year, I'm thinking ( hoping) that many of the IT managers will realize that the low morale and oversized work load are related issues, and seek to grow their staffs again.
Of course this is speculation, but Information Technology isn't going to go away, and the more complex it becomes, the more 'staffing' is going to be an issue. You can't run multi-million (billion) dollar systems with a skeleton staff. Things break, and it costs you more in down time than you saved by firing people. That's reality, it just takes someone getting burned once (maybe twice) to see the truth in it. With 24-7 manufacturing and eBusiness, B2E portals and enterprise applications that exist to the suits only as long as they are reliable, staffing fluxes are painful, yes, but, from what I've seen, relatively short.
It seems to be an interesting approach to drop low-cost staffers to replace them with expensive contractors (unless their pay got chopped too). The chief bnifit of contractors is that they are easily removable, but their chief danger is that they can easily leave.
I'd like to get inside the ehad of the decision maker for that action in your company.
This would normally mean that the contractors are now either underpaid and will look elsewhere for better contracts, or are too expensive and will cost even more when the demand comes back up.
Other than the fact that staff get paid out of payroll and contractors get paid out of another pool, I don't see much sense in that action.
That said, my contract is doing exactly the same thing as your project. As a matter of fact they're going one deeper, and adding a sole-source supplier in the middle, which generates rate multipliers between 1.5 and 2.5 to the customer, while in the region the standard is 1.15 - 1.2.
Then again this simply looks to me like traditional corporate short-sightedness - looking at the apparent spending of a department rather than on the real picture, and relying on the Battling Business Units concept to work things out.
I'm luckily currently sitting in a huuuuge bank, which keeps me in somewhat the same position as you, I think. As long as my project lives and as long as I dont get too demanding, it's a long term contract.
I also think that like you, the fact that I'm in application development plays a major role in my longevity in contracting. It just does not make sense to have knowledge-critical infrastructure outsourced.
But then again some manager's manager could wake up, sneeze, and the project would be cancelled.
Your last point about IT's permanance is a good one, to which I also subscribe.
Don't you also nevertheless get a feeling that the dot.com hype in the states, and the following bubble phenomenon has nurtured an environment in which many, many corporations (luckily usually only the immature ones that were on their way down from the start) have sunk far more ino their IT budgets than they could possibly hope to extract under even the most optimistic scenarios?
I for one am watching the crumble of the US dot.com industry with some trepidation, thinking of all the lost contracts & hungry workers that are going to be flowing out of the failed dot.coms.