IT contractor demand ‘rebalanced’ in June, but remains in the red

Employers merely “tending” towards temporary hires in June 2023 failed to cut it for freelance IT contractors, whose demand remained in the red.

In fact, for the second month in a row, appetite for IT skills on a temporary basis decreased, coming in at 48.6, although that is up from a weaker 47.6 in May.

While the figures are in Report on Jobs by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the dynamic in IT contractor demand is perhaps best summed up by


The jobs website spoke of “signs of rebalancing” -- which tallies with the REC’s stronger score in IT contractor demand, albeit still under the report’s growth threshold of 50.0.

But the two separate labour market readings agree about a trend which will have diluted demand even if, as one agent put it, agencies were ‘still placing people every week’ in June.

“There was a significant step up in the number of candidates looking for a new…temporary role [in June],” says the REC’s Neil Carberry.

“This is likely driven by people reacting to high inflation by stepping up their job search, and by some firms reshaping their businesses in a period of low growth.”

'Increased candidate interest in tech and other high-paid, remote-friendly jobs'’s senior economist Jack Kennedy said: “Higher-paid, remote-friendly occupations like tech [and] mathematics…continue to see increased jobseeker interest.”

The increase in jobseeker interest is now higher than it was pre-pandemic, with software development seeing the biggest leap in relative interest.

One of 10 key occupations, five of which command more candidate interest than before Q1 2020, software development is up by an unmatched 200% versus pre-covid, the site said.

Taking to LinkedIn after the REC published Report on Jobs, its CEO Mr Carberry reiterated that June saw temp candidate availability “rising very strongly.”

'Returnees seeking to boost income or get a pay rise'

And the confederation signalled those temps were strong in technical skills -- aligned with those who carry out the high-paid, remote-friendly roles experiencing an interest-surge at

The REC’s Mr Carberry said: “Some workers [returned in June] to the labour market to boost their income and others [looked] for a pay rise…where labour shortages are biting, and [in] key high skill areas like engineering.”

But also continuing to bite is the dicey economy.

'Lingering economic uncertainty'

Claire Warnes, a partner at KMPG, said due to what she described as June’s “lingering economic uncertainty,” employers were “tending towards temporary hires,” a bit like in May.

The IT sector was not identified in Report on Jobs as those sectors “struggling to find and retain workers,” unlike accountancy, teaching, nursing and construction, which were.

With those four probably most in mind, Warnes warned: “The evident mismatch between open vacancies and the skills of available candidates needs to be addressed urgently, and a concerted focus on upskilling and reskilling is long overdue.”

'Honestly, frustratingly, disappointingly'

In June for its tech recruiters, the REC found five IT skills to be “in short supply” on both a permanent and contract basis -- Cyber Security, Development, Software and Technology/IT.

There were also shortages of applicants for full-time CNC and Digital positions, while the only skill exclusively scarce among IT contractors was Data.

“Do we have work on? Yes. Are we placing people? Yes, every week. Do we have as much work as we would normally have on? Honestly, frustratingly and disappointingly, no,” posted Mark Conway, a contact centre recruiter.

A recruiter for 15 years, he added: “These ‘downs’ [in recruitment] aren't always linked to economic fragility. But often [they] are; [and] this is unfortunately what we are experiencing at present.”

Advising potentially dispirited candidates online, Conway encouraged ringing their agency contact for a “pick-me-up” or if not, considering a “new look CV.”

'Just send me CVs'

CVs inspired a second LinkedIn post by another frustrated-sounding recruiter in June, although this time, clients were the target.

“As recruiters, we NEED to understand your requirements, what exactly you are looking for; your culture, must-haves, nice-to-haves,” insisted Matt Bryne-Fraser.

Annoyed at a prospective client demanding “Just send me CVs” after the client refused to find the time to talk on the phone, the financial services sector recruiter added:

“If you are serious about recruiting and want the best possible process for yourself and potential candidates alike, invest the time upfront in speaking [to your agent.]"


Also not naming names but similarly thinking about process last month, was technology contractor recruitment boss Matt Collingwood.

“Recruiters don’t grow candidates in a lab, they [help] you find them,” the boss of VIQU quipped to employers. “[But that gets tricky] if a client burns bridges…or has an inflexible interview process which hinders hiring.”

Profile picture for user Simon Moore

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.
Printer Friendly, PDF & Email

Contractor's Question

If you have a question about contracting please feel free to ask us!

Ask a question

Sign up to our newsletter

Receive weekly contractor news, advice and updates.

Every sign up will be entered into a draw to WIN £100 Amazon Vouchers.

* indicates required