City firm sees surge in IT contractors

The sharpest upturn in demand for IT contractors so far this year came last month, mainly thanks to investment banks signing off new budgets for technology projects.

Hiring prospects in June for all other financial candidates were "mixed" but there was a "boom" for IT contractors, particularly when compared to their prospects a year ago.

Total contract offers to IT freelancers leapt by 320% in the four weeks from May, and by 340% against June 2009, said the London-based pre-employment screening firm Powerchex, which issued the figures.

Although the firm said investment banking was historically the most volatile job sector in financial services, its banks were driving the growth in IT contract offers.

The sector, which grew by 45% from May to June, has been recruiting for new IT-enabled projects, indicating optimism for at least the next quarter, Powerchex said.

Its founder Alexandra Kelly says her figures tally with the latest official jobs data, by showing that the "recovery" in the private sector jobs market "is getting back on track."

"Recruitment in the financial sector has generally flattened in the last quarter, but IT contractor hiring shows signs of another round of optimism in investment banking this summer.

"The financial industry was preserving liquidity and waiting to see what changes would occur as a result of the general election and possibly tighter regulations in the [emergency] Budget," she said.

"But the surge in IT contactors shows the sector has released the build-up that had been waiting on the back burner until government news was certain."

Speaking last month, IT recruiters at staffing firm Jenrick told CUK that client companies in London were prioritising their contract hires.

"There is a steady demand for IT contractors in London depending on their skill set," said the firm's managing director Philip Fanthom.

"What we have witnessed is that the pendulum has swung back from a trend to recruit on a permanent basis, firmly towards recruiting contractors."

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