Generations of Contractors

“As a highly educated workforce in a digital world independent contractors should be pushed as a sector that would allow Irish people to obtain more work from overseas companies, while remaining in Ireland and spending our earnings here.”
Quote from Respondent

While we recognise there can be nuances between generations, embracing generational diversity can foster innovation, creativity, and enhanced decision-making. Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1979), Millennials (1980-1994), and Generation Z (1995-2010) now share their experiences and ideas in the workplace. It is imperative for organisations to harness the collective wisdom and foster common ground. Apart from combatting age discrimination, the inclusion of diverse age groups enhances perspectives, thereby driving innovation and creative problem-solving. Contractors further enrich this generational diversity, as they bring in a broad range of experiences and skill sets across generations. This mix of varied perspectives enhances the organisation’s ability to problem solve, innovate, and adapt.

A recent survey by Deloitte Ireland revealed the desire among Gen Z and Millennials for a better work/life balance and more flexible working arrangements. Our results show an increase in younger people entering the contracting sector perhaps because contracting delivers on both key requirements. Redefining the workplace to meet the evolving needs of the next generation will need urgent attention by industry. The good news for the contracting sector is that many of the factors that are important to the next generation of workers are already available to them through the contracting model. As Gen Z become more embedded in the workforce contracting can play a pivotal role in driving this wave of change. However to achieve this they will have to overcome barriers to entry (evident in the low percentage of Gen Z in finance, tech and engineering) by building expertise through work experience.

Generation Split

It’s evidenced that contractors historically tended to be older, this makes sense as it’s takes time to build a valuable skill set and gather experience. It’s no surprise then that Gen X and Millennials make up the largest cohorts of contractors. Gen X make up the largest percentage at 39%, millennials 37%, Boomers 19% and Gen Z 5%. 2024 report shows an increase of 2% in the percentage of Gen Z contractors. 

Boomers: 1946 – 1964
Gen X: 1965 – 1979
Millennials: 1980 – 1994
Gen Z: 1995 – 2010

Project/Gig Economy Split By Generation

This report classifies contractors into two distinct groups those who are project-based and those who gig/task based. 86% of respondents engage in the project economy with 14% engaged in the gig economy. Millennials at 19% and Gen Z 35% are overrepresented in the task/gig economy. Gen X 91% and Boomers 90% are more prevalent in the project-based economy.

Industry Breakdown By Generation

All generations are represented in industry throughout the economy but at different levels depending on industry type. When we look at the key contracting sectors Boomers are found at a high level in the technical and services sectors, Gen X in the financial and engineering industries, Millennials in the Medical Locum and Pharma, Life Sciences and Medical Device industries with Gen Z mainly operating in the Medical Locum sector. This is unsurprising as greater experience and expertise would usually be required to engage in project-based roles in Technical and Services industries.

Occupation By Generation

We can also see the type of work being done varies significantly by generation. 31% of all managers, directors and senior officials are Boomers, 50% are Gen X, 19% are Millennials and Gen Z are not represented in these roles. The percentage of Boomers, Gen X and Millennials is also significantly higher than Gen Z when we look at professional or specialist occupations (categorised using Standard Occupational Classifications (SOCs) 1-3).

Work Experience By Generation

The average work experience by generation shows variance, which is to be expected as Gen Z are just starting to enter the workforce.

How Contractors Find Their Work

The method used by contractors to find their contracting work varies significantly from generation to generation. 44% of Boomers, 36% of Gen X’s and 35% of Millennials take the lead role in finding work, as opposed to 19% of Gen Z’s, perhaps outlining the advantage of time spent in industry and the subsequent ability for them to have developed a larger personal network, which we know to be important to ensure a continuous stream of work. 48% of Gen Z’s use a third party to take the lead in finding new work.

The average time all respondents spent looking for a new contract was 9 days, interestingly Millennials and Gen Z spent less time than the average contractor looking for work, Millennials 7 days and Gen Z’s 8 days. Boomers had the longest average days looking for work at 11 days.

Average Days Looking for Work




Gen X




Gen Z

Daily Rates By Generation

The average daily rate earned by the different generational groups varies. The value of age is evidenced where Boomers earn on average 44% more than Gen Z, it should be noted that industry sector plays a role, as well as the seniority of work being done. Boomers have an average daily rate of €695, Gen X have an average of €616, Millennials average daily rate is €483, and Gen Z’s is €390.

Average Daily Rate




Gen X




Gen Z

Average Annual Earnings




Gen X




Gen Z


Length Of Contract

Contracts average 14 months, but length varies by generation. Boomers and Gen X have longer contracts, averaging 15 and 16 months respectively. Millennials average 13 months, while Gen Z contracts are the shortest at 9 months. 

Average Holiday Days Taken

In 2024 data from all respondents showed the average holidays take was 22 days per year, however 61% of all contractors reported taking less than 23 days of holidays in a year. Boomers take the highest number of holidays across generations at 20 days per year with Gen Z taking the least days at 17 per year.

20 Days


19 Days

Gen X

19 Days


17 Days

Gen Z

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Generations of Contractors

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