Shortage of Qualified Talent, Cost Reduction Give Rise to Contingent Workforce

Global mobility managers hire foreign talents for full-time work so companies get their money’s worth, but what if that takes too much time and they need qualified talent right away? They need a contingent workforce. 

Silicon Valley has always been known to hire local talents for six months to a year or more. This is no longer unusual. By 2020, though, about 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be contingent. Its ripples will inevitably trickle into the global mobility ocean.

Often known by other names, the emerging contingent workforce are permanent freelancers, remote workers (which is not entirely accurate) or independent consultants. 

Their cost-effectiveness and agility are compelling recruiting managers to give them a second, closer, hard look. They offer a quick alternative to filling up job gaps. The amount of paperwork needed to hire a qualified talent is fewer than hiring a full-time employee who undergo several processes before they are employed. 

Of course, the more observant and legally-minded human resource managers might quickly distinguish them from contract workers. Still, their growth just might also make global mobility managers ask themselves at one point: can an assignee come from the contingent pool of talents? A contingent workforce offers a temporary solution that offers a window to a full-time position.

Before we jump to any conclusion, it would be judicious to understand what a contingent talent or worker is (and what they are not). 

As Human Resources MBA describes them, they are temps with a specialized skill set. The employer or the business owner contracts them to perform a set of tasks or entire projects for a certain period of time. They are judged mostly by their results and their ability to deliver, although some owners choose to also monitor their working hours. They can work onsite, remotely, or both. 

A contingent workforce is not given any benefits or are entitled to any other kind of compensation, and pay for their own taxes. These last conditions separate them from the contract worker, says Chron

A contract worker’s employment terms are more flexible and can be more advantageous to them. Their work status can be extended to permanent, and they can negotiate for the benefits that full-time employees receive regularly. The key is for the global mobility manager to work on getting a contingent staff a full-time opportunity down the road, as it so happens that companies like to test the waters with a new hire.

The working conditions of the contingent talent do sound less stable and sustainable than their full-time or contractual colleagues’. However, there are good reasons why their number is rising — and some of them are from the business owners’ perspective.  Forbes gives a few:

Shortage of qualified talent

Finding, screening, and hiring the right talent that can fit the requirements of the organization can and do take time and money. There will be times when the company cannot simply wait — the competition can just snap up their precious customers or beat them to the latest innovation in product development, if the skilled workforce is not available. One way to fill in the gap is to bring onboard specialists who have the right credentials, experience, knowledge, and capabilities. 

No training would be needed to bring them up to speed; all the business owner has to do is take a look at their portfolio. Any risk hiring them would be mitigated by their contingent status. The company does not have to pay them benefits or allow them leaves. Once the project is done, the company can choose not to renew their contract. Bottom line, the competition is neutralized, the project is finished, and the company still has the option to hire full time employees who can do the same job, but at a later date.


It is getting costlier to hire and maintain full-time employees these days. The cost per hire of an employee in an American company stands at a minimal of $4,000 a year. Benefits and other perks can reach up to 30 to 40 percent of that package or $1,200 – $1,600 a year. 

The top benefit — health — can soar up to $15,000 a year per employee. Do the math, and a cost-per-employee can reach up to a staggering $20,600 a year. Businesses who simply cannot afford that number will just choose to contract contingent workers.


Many progressive companies, especially those in Silicon Valley, honor this culture, but it holds another meaning when it comes to marketing. Companies that want to target a specific market niche can tap contingent talents who fit that niche. 

For example, they can hire millennial artists to do a creative campaign for a specific millennial audience. Or they can commission the website development of a site aimed for middle-class soccer moms to web developers who also happen to be soccer moms. This arrangement is not permanent and will end once the goals pertaining to that specific niche have been accomplished.