IT contractor demand score at 14-month high

A long list of scarce IT skills for full-time jobs seems to have helped demand for freelance technologists climb in March to its highest reading on a national index since January 2016.  

But as well as the shortages -- in nine areas of the full-time IT labour market, Brexit-induced uncertainty is keeping potentially able permies in their seats, hinted index compilers the REC.  

Economic uncertainty about future prospects is having a detrimental effect on employees’ willingness to risk a career move at this time”, says REC chief executive Kevin Green.

“Many [employers] are [therefore] reporting an increasing number of white collar jobs as hard to fill, including in the IT and financial sectors.”

For techies who are willing to move, whether they are perm or contract, “financial rewards [are] on offer,” as skills-hungry clients are “boosting” rates to get the expertise they need.

“This is a good time for individuals prepared to move jobs, with bumper pay offers on the table,” added Mr Green, albeit speaking last month, when the premiums first surfaced.

“In the context of rising inflation and stagnating pay growth, changing employers is becoming a more attractive option for those looking for more money.”

Digital techies will agree with this the most, as digital generalists and UX/UI experts were scarce for roles in February, and their web development counterparts were scarce last month.  

Java developers, Dev Ops and IT security specialists are arguably even better positioned for premiums, as March saw a shortage of them on both a contract and full-time basis.

Also hard to find last month for REC agencies were software developers, software engineers, Ruby software developers, PHP software developers and embedded software engineers.  

In trying to fill these full-time posts, the agents struggled too to find applicants skilled in CAD Design. Another non-core IT skill – gaming -- was hard to source as well, in February.

“Shortages of appropriately skilled, willing and able candidates was a problem before the [EU] referendum,” said the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

“Our concern is that Brexit will make the problem worse, particularly if onerous restrictions are imposed on people coming from the EU to work.”

So far however, the narrowing candidate pool (which REC says is most visible in London and the South), thanks in part to Brexit-related uncertainty, is playing into contractors’ hands.

According to the REC’s latest Report on Jobs, demand for IT contractors stands at 60.1, up from 59.1 in February and representing the highest numerical reading for 14 months.

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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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