Demand drops for agency IT contractors

Demand for temporary IT workers contracting through recruitment agencies fell in September to its lowest level this year, the latest Report on Jobs shows.

Published yesterday by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the index for last month scores IT contractor demand at 51.7, below the low in May of 56.4.

While there are still some shortages of contract IT skills, the REC also found that fewer IT contractors were placed by its member agents last month than in September last year.

Reflecting the drop-off, the availability of contractors rose - at its fastest rate for three months - and hourly rates dropped, albeit marginally, for the first time in nine months.

And although pay and availability were measured for all contractors, not just those in IT, only nursing and medical temps are less sought-after than their counterparts in IT.

The September report, co-authored by KMPG, states that the "sharp decline" in healthcare staff hires came from government-ordered cutbacks and reforms to the NHS.

Seeming to partly explain the slump for IT staff, KPMG's head of business services spoke of redundancy programmes and hiring freezes taking shape in the public sector.

"September has seen a further slowdown of the UK jobs market" added Bernard Brown, commenting in the report.

"Engineering, construction and executive staff have been most in demand, an indication of the continuing recovery in the private and manufacturing sector."

Elsewhere, Business analysts, .Net developers and sales staff - for enterprise software, IT security and Cloud computing - were the full-time IT workers hardest to source.

On a temporary basis, the report adds, there were fewer skills shortages than in August, with agencies looking only for .Net developers and Business Analysts.

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