IT contractor index falls to almost three-year low

The lowest level of demand for technology expertise on a temporary basis in 31 months hit IT contractors in March 2019, mainly thanks to the Brexit crisis.

Blaming the almost three-year low on the UK’s unknown fate with the EU, staffing body the REC scored IT contractor demand at 54.2, the weakest growth reading since August 2016.

“Brexit has been sapping business confidence for months, and now it is causing the jobs market to grind to a halt,” says KPMG, which co-authors the REC’s Report on Jobs.

The firm added: “With unclear trading conditions ahead, many companies have decided to hit the pause button on new hires and reduce their dependency on temporary appointments.”  

That reduced dependency in IT is most visible among the industries which typically pay the best, and hire techies more than their own kind, the vice-chairman of KPMG suggested.

IT recruitment has been slowing for months,” said James Stewart, “but now we’re seeing particularly sharp falls in recruitment activity across financial and professional services.”

Workers are acting on the uncertainty too, as those who wanted to ‘jump ship’ have decided “now isn’t the right to time to abandon the haven of an existing job,” he added.  

But should techies need something new, Automation Testing, Oracle Fusion, CAD, CNC, C#, Technology/IT, Development, DevOps and Software Development are likeliest to oblige.

These skills were deemed by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s member agencies in March as ‘hard-to-source,’ for both permanent and freelance vacancies.

Software Engineering was the only skill scarce uniquely scarce among contractors, at odds with quite a range on a full-time basis, such as Data Analysis, Java, PHP and Network SDN.

“But Brexit uncertainty has put the brakes on,” cautions REC chief executive Neil Carberry.

“With business investment rates poor, and little certainty about the path ahead, [our] data shows that the time for political game-playing is over.

“This situation is beginning to affect people’s daily lives as permanent staff appointments fell, and the growth of temporary jobs and starting salaries weakened.”

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