IT contractor jobs market returned to growth in October 2020

The IT contractor jobs market returned to growth in October 2020, growing not only for the first time this year but growing for the first time since September 2019 - way before covid hit.

Although only marginal, the 52.1 growth reading last month is even higher for IT contractors than it was last September, as it actually represents their highest score since July 2019 (53.4)

Unveiled today by the REC, the positive reading in October indicates that firms started acclimatising themselves to pandemic-restricted hiring practices to fulfil their IT needs.

'Organisations better prepared'

Further explaining the recovery, freelance technologists are the most familiar and adept at working remotely, arguably more so than any other type of worker in any other industry.

Perhaps this is why firms in October were “better prepared” to operate and hire despite the introduction of ‘Tiered’ coronavirus restrictions, according to REC’s CEO Neil Carberry.

“These figures show that hiring was still going on,” he says in Report on Jobs, published this morning by KPMG and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation.

“While a new England-wide lockdown starts this week, similar restrictions were already in force in much of the UK last month.”

'WfH is a bigger factor'

However, any link between lockdown severity or covid-19 infection and recruitment activity is yet to be clear enough to be determinative, indicates a new analysis of London.

“Instead, the sectoral composition of regional labour markets and ability to work from home…is likely to be a bigger factor”, said the site, alluding to the capital then being ‘Tier 2.’

Meanwhile, James Stewart, vice-chair of KPMG says October also saw a “reluctance” from end-users to take on new members of staff on a permanent basis.

Writing in today’s report, and warning that a second lockdown puts the labour market in a “precarious position,” Mr Stewart pointed to a “big increase” in candidate availability.


“I’ll be honest, the outlook looks grim,” agrees Kate McCarthy-Booth, boss of McCarthy Recruitment, alluding to today’s lockdown.

“It’s true, some sectors have been hammered, but as we enter lockdown round two, the job data overall looks positive.”

Although she was talking of ONS data and not the REC’s figures, she suggested that the historically high level of candidate availability may actually be acting as a draw.

'Never seen such quality candidates'

“[Organisations’ hiring managers] have a once-in-a-career opportunity to pull together a world-class team,” the recruiter posted in the period covering the confederation’s data.

“I’ve never seen a market filled with so many quality people eager and ready to go.”

But IT contractors skilled in AWS Cloud, Azure, BI; Data Science, Database Development, Development, Python, Technology, IT and Teradata are not ready to go, as most are scarce.

In fact, all ten IT skills on a contract basis were “in short supply” in October according to REC members agencies, with the same ten also scarce on a permanent basis, plus eight others -- Analysis; C#, CNC, Data; Design Management, Digital, Software and SQL.

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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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