Demand for IT contractors climbs even higher

Predictions to ContractorUK that demand for IT contractors in this first quarter will surpass even the latest high achieved in December 2012 appear to be ringing true.

Unveiling its latest monthly Report on Jobs yesterday, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation scored IT contractor demand at 54.8, up from the 2012 peak of 54.6 in the previous report.

Then, major IT-business projects reaching critical points amid a dearth of full-time computer staff was attributed to a surge in the number of hirers taking on temporary and freelance IT workers.

Those factors appear to have continued to play out in January, when a “war for talent” broke out, the REC said, particularly in IT, where more than 10 computer skill-sets on a permanent basis were scarce and therefore hard to source.

In fact, REC’s member IT recruitment agencies struggled last month to find full-time candidates for Business Analysis, C#, Java, Linux, .Net, PHP, Sharepoint, Telecoms and Programming. Enterprise software salespeople and General IT practitioners were also hard to come by for permanent openings.

“Skills shortages in whole sectors like engineering and IT…are spurring competition for qualified staff,” Tom Hadley, a director of the REC said in the report.

“This is good news for workers but also highlights the need to address the current 'skills disconnect' which presents a major barrier to growth in key sectors of our economy.”

However, the contract IT market is not immune to such a disconnect between what hirers want and what candidates are available to supply, and last month it exacerbated.

In particular, while the shortage of freelance C# and .Net developers persists, January also saw an insufficient number of contractors for PHP, Sharepoint and General IT contracts.

This could indicate that the IT contractor hiring spree may not be at an end just yet, especially if temporary candidates can become qualified in the specialisms which hirers are keenly looking for, as Bernard Brown of KPMG, the report’s co-author, explained.

“Given the skills gaps that continue to plague many sectors, increased availability of qualified and experienced staff could help fill the capability gap many employers have wanted to plug for some time,” he said.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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