IT job candidates told of ‘sizeable December premiums’

Demand for IT contractors hardly moved in November, signalling computer professionals who work on a temporary basis are in for a traditionally quiet Christmas period.

If hirers were planning the year-end spree they went on in previous years to ‘lock-in’ talent for the New Year, a more than miniscule uptick in IT contractor demand would be registering now.

Instead, IT contractor demand stands at 58.6 according to November’s Report on Jobs by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), compared with the near-identical 58.4 of October.

That means demand for IT contractors still grew in November 2018 (any score over 50.0 indicates monthly growth), but January 2017 was the last time such index scores were as low.

But it is the first quarter not of 2017, yet of 2018 that saw a dynamic play out that has returned to the market now, whereby jumping jobs while others stay put can land premiums.

“Candidates who are prepared to take a chance and job-hop can often bag a pay rise,” James Stewart of report co-authors KPMG said on Friday. “This is especially apparent in sectors like IT”.

He explained that “sizeable premiums” for “quality” applicants have come about because concerns about a ‘no-deal Brexit’ have ‘put the handbrake’ on the supply of candidates.

Also blaming Brexit, the REC confirmed: “Fewer people are willing to change employer and look for jobs in this uncertain climate, despite rising pay and jobs being available.”

But the confederation’s temporary IT index, which measures demand based on the number of new opportunities available, last November stood at 60.2, compared to 58.6 this November.

Although both are ‘growth’ scores, this year’s lower score may mean extra contractors are indeed staying put, suggesting extensions up to the year-end are even more popular than usual.

A survey from workforce solutions group Guidant Global confirms the REC’s other commentary -- that the outlook looks challenging for end-clients trying to staff-up projects.

The group said four in 10 hiring managers blame Brexit uncertainty for harming talent ‘access’, and a quarter said Britain’s EU exit would harm skills ‘availability’ in the future.

A further 14% indicated that highly skilled workers should be prioritised, while 11% believed that the current Shortage Occupation List should be reviewed. Elsewhere in the survey, one in 10 said that salary thresholds for Tier 2 visas should be reconsidered.

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