Contractors’ Questions: Which IT skills are best for repeat contracts?

Contractor’s Question: I am set to invest in an IT training course, but want to ensure that the subject I choose will keep me in contracting for a while. I’m not necessarily after a few long contracts; rather I would like multiple contracts in the same, buoyant area of IT. I want any time spent not earning - on the bench – to be only minimal. Unfortunately I’m not near London or looking to get into coding, so where else in the market, in terms of skills, looks promising for repeat contracts?

Expert’s Answer: Competition for those development jobs in London is actually still relatively high. So there are a lot of other IT professionals to out-perform in order to get to the big prize. However, a note on the bright side – candidate pools are definitely diminishing, therefore talent is getting harder to find. With no sign of the job volumes slowing down significantly, the chances of you being the contractor the client wants should soon be improving.

Then there are the ‘hotspots’ and if you have skills in these areas then you will rarely struggle for work. So what are they? Broadly they are in four areas (as of July 2011).

IT Security

Security and compliance are very much in-vogue. Any experience in this field is highly sought after and the demand has been led by the Banking and Financial Services sector. However, it has not reached across most other industries as the reliance on IT and data management and protection issues are high on the agenda. Average rates can be higher than those for general IT skills – so it’s a lucrative area to be involved in.

Business Intelligence

Following on from the data management and security theme, we’ve seen a peak in demand for skills in the Business Intelligence arena. Specific technologies/ skills sought after include Cognos, Business Objects, Microstrategy, Hyperion and SSRS. In addition ETL and data warehousing skills are popular with calls for Informatics, Data Stage and Ab Initio experience.

Web- based .NET Developers

The demand for these candidates never seems to end! Any web based .NET skills are in demand in the south, east, north and west it seems. Whilst demand for C#.NET is healthy, add the web based development projects on top, and these individuals are rarely out of work. There are contract and permanent roles available across multiple industries across the UK.


The rise and rise of SAP continues [Ed: SAP was the only contract IT skill reported in the REC’s latest Report on Jobs to be in short supply]. Professionals with project skills, development skills, Bas, Sap testers – they’re all in demand. Roles are available with the end client, with consultancies supplying an end client and everything in between it seems. Permanent roles and contract roles abound – there seems to be major investment in ERP by a large number of companies, so currently SAP skills are hot to trot!

The expert was Andrea Williams, a Director at Outsource UK, a Swindon-based IT recruitment agency.

Monday 8th Aug 2011
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