Where IT contractors are currently in demand

How fitting that we’re in the ninth month of the year and there are nine IT contractor skill areas that our consultants describe as ‘hot’ in the private sector, writes Harvey Nash Recruitment Solutions and Mortimer Spinks.

We’re not alone in seeing the appetite from companies for IT contractors exceed the norm. The latest REC Report on Jobs, for example, gives demand for temporary IT skills the highest score the report has indexed for more than two years.

But the increasing breadth of the IT sector, plus the wide range of skills it encompasses, mean we need to take a more segmented approach to identifying the nine ‘hot’ IT contractor skills, to truly demystify their rise to the top in 2017.

1. Cyber Security

It’s a generalisation but the following areas within Cyber Security tend to comfortably command between £500 and £600 a day.

  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Monitoring tools -- SIEM tools, such as NESSUS
  • Operations Analysts, Security and Cloud Architect-type roles

Contractors perusing opportunities in the space will have noticed however that many organisations are trying to fill the specialisms listed above on a permanent basis. This indicates that the current need to intake contractors is only a short term/ temporary solution.

To make yourself less of ‘stop gap’ for a company, remember that there continues to be a convergence of skillsets in IT security. Contract extensions or rate increases will be reserved for those individuals who possess a spread of security skills.

2. DevOps

Contractor skills increasingly associated with DevOps have become increasingly desired over the past 18 months. Particularly AWS/Azure within Devops. For the uninitiated, Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon.com that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments, on a paid subscription basis with a free-tier option available for 12 months. Contractor individuals in this niche are commanding daily rates of between £500 and £700.

Equally, Docker is generally seen as a cutting-edge software technology providing containers, promoted by the company Docker Inc.

The California-based company provides an additional layer of abstraction and automation of operating-system-level virtualisation on Windows and Linux. Today’s Devops engineers with good Docker tend to charge between £600 and £700 a day.

Redhat Openshift

OpenShift lets you easily and quickly build, develop, and deploy in nearly any infrastructure, public or private. Whether it’s on-premise, in a public cloud, or hosted, you have an award-winning platform to get your next big idea to market ahead of your competition. Expect rates ranging from £700 to £800 a day, especially for those who can run an implementation.

3. Development



Allowing its practitioners to command from £400 to 600 a day, this is a front end framework, that has become really trendy among start-ups and some of the larger technology companies. But because it’s so new, it’s quite hard to get experience in and as such, the rates charged by contractors vary greatly. Less experienced developers are willing to drop their rate to gain vital commercial experience, while those who are already very strong can demand a higher fee.


Offering its contract practitioners slightly more (between £500 and £600 p/day) is this backend framework. It was widely adopted by a number of government organisations. With the outflow of developers from the public sector in the aftermath of the changes to IR35, we are now seeing many of these developers touting their skills in the private market, where they continue to command the same day rate they did in the public sector.


Offering more again -- up to £650 (from a base of £500), Scala is very similar to Java. It evolved around Java but because it’s simpler and a more logical way of coding than Java, many organisations are hinting to us that they see it as taking over from Java.

The demand for highly-skilled Scala specialists is very high, and the requirements of clients is quite specific, meaning it can be tough to find the right contractor to fit the brief.

Other ‘hot’ IT skills on a temporary basis include:

4. Front End (Html/Css) (£350-450)

5. Kubernetes/Docker/AWS (DevOps) (£600-700+)

6. .Net (£350-450)

7. iOS/Android (£400-500)

8. PHP -- Laravel (£400-450)

9. Drupal 8 (£450-550)

Final thought

Whether these nine will stay ‘hot’ for IT contractors into the colder months of October, November and December remains to be seen, but considering how new some of these skills are and the huge demand across the private sector, it's hard to see any significant change in the final quarter of 2017. Then again, never say never!

Editor’s NoteThe authors were Colin Morley, professional services director at Harvey Nash Recruitment Solutions, Dave Savage, associate director at Harvey Nash, and Rob Pestridge, senior consultant at Mortimer Spinks.

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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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