Public sector cuts slow IT contractor demand

A small but significant growth spurt in the number of IT contracts coming onto the agency jobs market appears to have tailed off, partly due to cuts in the public sector.

Demand for IT contractors stood at 56.5 last month, down from 56.9 in June, but still stronger than in May, when there was a hiring lull. Demand last July was 46.2.

For IT candidates, and for other sector professionals, July 2010 saw a "significant deceleration in the jobs market," according to the REC, which published the findings.

"This is the first real indicator that cuts in the public sector are beginning to bite," said REC chief executive Kevin Green, reflecting on the group's latest Report on Jobs.

"Public bodies must avoid knee-jerk cuts to staffing levels which not only threaten the recovery of the UK jobs market but also undermine the delivery of key services."

He urged the government to "do everything possible" to boost job creation in the private sector, which faces compensating for 600,000 losses over the next year.

Although the REC has presented this total as a worst-case figure, it relates only to the public sector, and does not include losses in private sector firms with public contracts.

As a result, the total pool of professional candidates competing for contract work looks set to expand further, as it did in July for the 27th month in a row, the REC found.

However, relative to the demand that the group's member agencies saw last month, there is a shortage of freelance Sharepoint Developers and contract Business Analysts.

Also according to the report, the hardest skills for IT recruiters to source on a full-time basis are SAP, Perl,.NET, Business Analysis, IT Security and Office support.

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