Contractors, here’s the IT skills to help you ride out 2020’s uncertainty

We are operating in interesting times at the moment -- and by ‘we,’ it is contractors, clients and us agencies that come to mind, writes Charlie Cox, commercial manager, and David Curtis, director, at staffing company SThree.

Uncertainty due to Brexit not looking like it’s going to change anytime soon, coupled with both today’s Budget 2019 being pulled and private sector IR35 reform being less than 22 weeks away, means we all have a lot to think about.   

This uncertainly should play into the hands of contractors. Clients sometimes pause longer term staffing plans and focus on specific immediate projects which is where the contract market should pick up.    

Normally, this would be the case. But when you add in the Off-Payroll Working rules, it can seem that clients are slightly more hesitant in some areas, especially in the City.  

As to areas of the IT skills market where contractors are unquestionably being sought-after though, the ‘hot’ five right now are: 

1. Machine Learning

2. Cloud Computing

3. Salesforce

4. Cyber Security

5. DevOps

But what about as we move into 2020? What skills will be the most sought-after in the New Year, and why? Where should contractors be positioning themselves to ride out next year’s uncertainty? Again, here’s our ‘hot’ five:

1. Project & Change Management (£450 – £600 Average Pay Rate)

Focus on large-scale digital transformation projects means this skill will remain important. And with IR35 reform hitting the private sector, companies will need people who are equipped to deal with regulatory and compliance issues.

2. Cyber Security (£450 - £750 APR dependent on seniority of position)

According to research and report hub Cybersecurity Ventures, Cyber Crime damages are projected to reach $6 trillion annually by 2021! It’s little wonder that companies are heavily investing in their data protection and cyber security -- as a priority.

3. Cloud Computing & AWS (£500 - £550 APR)

According to LinkedIn data, cloud computing skills came out as the most in-demand skill for 2019. From what we can see, this is only set to increase.

4. UI/UX (£450 APR)

With the rise of industries like Challenger Banking, and even the continued rise of eCommerce, usability and experience remain at the forefront of the tech landscape. Contractors are therefore vital to ensure companies attract and retain consumers.

5. Python (£450 – £550 APR)

This skill remains an incredibly versatile language due to large libraries and ease of integration with legacy infrastructure. Companies that are looking to hire data scientists on a regular basis include Python in the ideal candidates’ core responsibilities.

Outlook for IT contractors

So even if the uncertainty keeps on doing its thing, above are five skills that IT contractors will likely want to have in January 2020, and five they’ll be happy to have right now, if reliably strong demand is the objective.

For sensible clients, this uncertainty presents them with an opportunity, however. It starts by scoping out a requirement properly; then taking a pragmatic approach to the approaching IR35 reform and finally having a sensible post-April 2020 plan in place. These three steps will help engagers have the pick of the best limited company contractors on the market. That’s what we are encouraging our clients to do anyway. And with Staffing Industry Analysts predicting the UK contract market will grow over the next few years, we are looking forward to playing a significant part in that growth.

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Written by SThree

Charlie Cox, Commercial Manager is responsible for leading the SThree strategy for customers and contractors in advance of the private sector IR35 reform. David Curtis is a Director that has been working with SThree for over 14 years and is an expert in IT contract recruitment.  

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