Strong IT contractor market 'a beacon' to former techies

The strength of the freelance IT jobs market has acted as a much-needed beacon for attracting individuals who at one stage turned their backs on their technology careers, a recruiter says.

Recruitment firm Randstad Technologies said yesterday that the buoyancy of the IT contract market in recent years has, similar to growth in IT training, inspired former techies to return.

“The strong IT jobs market and demand for contractors…has lured many tech professionals back into the contractor space and prompted new people to consider this way of working.”

The firm added that although welcome, the boost to the IT workforce from the contractor market; more IT training, and a rise in computer science undergraduates, may not be enough.

“It’s far too early for the sector to rest on its laurels,” said Mike Beresford, managing director of Randstad, which calculates that the UK will need to hire an extra 21,000 IT workers by 2050.

“There is still a real shortage of highly trained IT professionals with the most in-demand skills [and] over the next five years, we expect to see a huge growth in demand for skilled IT jobs”.

The recruiter previously calculated that to support the predicted UK population by 2050, the IT workforce would need to be 510,000, and would have to grow by nearly 5,000 a year from 2008.

Thanks to the factors like the appeal of the contract market, the IT workforce is currently on target to meet this demand, as the stock of working techies has risen by 59% since 2008.

“But the proliferation of tech start-ups and high growth experienced in specific areas such as big data, mobile and security across the UK may cause demand to intensify by 2050,” said Randstad.

“[This means] that although the IT sector is currently ahead of the curve, the sector still needs to focus on its staffing levels in order to keep up with demand.”

To cope with existing IT skills shortages, sharply felt by tech start-ups, Beresford says that many in the sector want the government to adjust its immigration policies to allow more skilled IT workers into the UK.

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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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