National IT contractor index confirms December was colder

A national index that measures demand for IT contractors has confirmed that December saw a drop-off in growth in temporary billings of techies.

In Report on Jobs published this morning, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) scores IT contractor demand for last month at 59.3.

Although that means IT contractor demand grew in December -- any score over 50.0 signals growth on the previous month, it represents the lowest index score since February 2017.

While the 10-month low might worry some IT contractors, recruiters sound unfazed even if, for their own agency, December was the nadir of 2017’s fourth quarter.

“[We] witnessed a slight dip in new [IT] contractor placements in December compared to October and November,” David Ward, director at SQ Computer Personnel told ContractorUK.

“[But] it’s a common occurrence for activity to dip during this time of the year while key decision-makers are busy planning budgets for the new year and taking time off for the Christmas break.”

Equally common, suggests REC’s Kevin Green, is for the brief hiatus pre-Christmas to be followed by a period where competition for candidates accelerates post-Christmas. And that’s where the market is now.

“Early in the New Year, people often think about changing jobs”, he said, “so…[end-users must] both retain existing capabilities and find the new hires they need as competition for people intensifies.”

Ward confirmed that such retention strategies -- typically in the form of extensions or renewals for contractors, have already been deployed.

“[Our] on-contract contractor numbers stayed consistent throughout December [and] we saw much lower drop-off in contractor numbers on-assignment at the beginning of January than in previous years”, he said. “[That’s] a big positive”.

According to Report on Jobs, there are shortages of IT contractors skilled in Automation Testing, Big Data, CAD, DevOps, Digital, Gaming, Java, Software Development, Generalist IT and UI.

Except for Big Data and UI, all this scarce IT skills are also scarce on a full-time basis, in addition to .Net, IT Security, Oracle Fusion, PHP Devs, Python ScrumMasters, Software Engineering and Web Development.

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Written by Laura Wilkinson

Laura is the Head of Marketing for ContractorUK. She has worked at ContractorUK for over 9 years and is qualified with a Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing via The IDM.
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