Growth in demand for IT contractors rebounded in November

A last-gasp in hiring before 2021 ends boosted IT contractors in November, arresting a three-month decline in growth.

In fact, demand for freelance tech skills notched up to 79.0 last month, up from 77.9 in October, 77.5 in September, and 78.6 in August.

In the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s Report on Jobs, which features the index, KPMG’s Claire Warnes said hirers were, already, “looking to the New Year…to fill gaps”.

'Temp rates are rising fast'

“This pace of activity continues to feed through to starting rates,” said REC chief executive Neil Carberry, in an online update referring to pay overall, not just in tech.

He added: “Perm starting rates are rising faster than seen before, while temp rates are rising fast, but a little slower than last month’s record.”

Crucially, “how much those” rates are actually increasing (as opposed to what chunk of new roles are seeing increases) is an area of  “lumpiness”, his update cautions.

'IT is leading the way'

But contractors in the technology sector need not worry because “IT is leading the way” in the rate growth stakes, “driven by huge demand.”

“And because of this high demand,” continued Mr Carberry, “it [will be] even more attractive to be looking for a new [technology] opportunity in 2022.

“[However] hiring companies will need to make sure they get their offer right – not just on pay.”

'Unrealistic expectatons'

The level of workers unhappy at their pay is “high” however, says recruiter Kate McCarthy Booth, reflecting on 2020 stats showing only a fifth of candidates feel paid their worth.

“But who is to blame?” she posted. “Do people have unrealistic salary expectations or do employers really pay too little?

Rob Spencer, a senior technology leader, believes it is definitely employers paying too little – facilitated by agencies, especially if a candidate’s personal circumstances can be used as an excuse.

“I’m so angry,” he began in an online vent. “My wife has been trying to get back to work after five years out having babies.

“There's roles available at a certain rate, but when the recruiter hears about the break, they cut the rate by 40 - 50%!.”

'Lot of noise aroud pay gaps'

Taking to LinkedIn, Mr Spencer added: “She is an incredible Program Planner. She learnt planning using Lego and elastic bands! And having us three boys to look after, her planning skills are just as sharp now as they were five years ago, if not better!

"There's a lot of noise around gender inequality and pay gaps, but then it hits you square in the face.

"Why are recruiters penalising women for having families? It's both female and male recruiters…[and] this happening in 2021."

'Strong end to the year'

KPMG’s Ms Warnes said in Report on Jobs that employers must have “one eye on cost pressures, and the other on attracting and retaining talent.”

“The data [for November] points to a strong end to the year, but that hunger to expand could be tested as the jobs market becomes ever tighter.

“The pace of demand for workers is running far faster than supply can keep up with,” she warned. “[And that] is draining an already diminished pool of available talent and feeding into inflationary pressures.”

Looking solely at tech talent in November, contractor shortages were visible in just four areas --  Development, Software Engineering, Technology and IT.

All four skills were short on a permanent basis too, with REC recruiters also struggling to find applicants for positions requiring Analysis, BI; C#, CAD Digital, Software, and Technical Sales.

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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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