Contractors' Questions: What's going on with IT contractor demand?

Contractor’s Question: What’s going on with demand for IT contractors? I ask because I’m not finding the market to be very healthy. My first gig was canned because of ‘de-scoping’ and the second I’ve landed (similarly in London/ South East) is now trying to get some of the longest-serving contractors to go perm. Perhaps it’s my CV; skills – junior infrastructure analyst – or is it just the current climate?

Expert’s Answer: We saw a very strong end to 2013 and beginning of 2014, but the increase in IT contractor demand was relatively short-lived. From mid Q1 to mid Q2, many of our large sized FTSE 100 clients reviewed their programmes of work and initiated programme re-scoping exercises. This generally caused a slow in demand for new hires and some contractors fell victim to projects being canned or scaled down. 

The signs of a recovery are there though, as the demand from the majority our FTSE 100 clients has been steadily improving since early May and hit a year-high recently (week commencing 16/06/14),  as new projects kick-off for Q3 & Q4.   

Within infrastructure and support there has been a constant stream of demand for Desktop Support, Application Support and Service Desk skills with surges in demand for Windows 7 Deployment skills from some of our clients. We have seen a noticeable increase in demand for Cloud and Cloud Architecture skills while .Net and PHP Development skills are still at a premium. There has also been a recent increase in IT contractor demand from clients in the financial services industry, notably for Business Analysts and Business Change Project Managers to work on large scale transition programmes.  

While the demand for contractors remains so too does the huge pressure for IT departments (and companies as a whole) to reduce their costs. ‘Take it or leave’ rate cuts have happened within some companies. And yes, long term contractors are coming under increased scrutiny, with some only being given the option to switch to a permanent role instead of being offered a renewal.  

The expert was David Ward, a director at IT contractor recruitment agency SQ Personnel.

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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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