Credit crunch looms over IT jobs market

Summary:Although demand for tech workers to fill vacancies is still strong, the ecomonic climate has begun to affect recruitment in the banking sector

The worldwide credit crunch could be starting to have an impact on IT jobs, but prospects for a new year job change look good going into 2008.

While demand for tech workers to fill vacancies is still strong, one sector where there has been some softening is banking, according to recruitment consultancy and outsourcing service provider Harvey Nash.

Simon Wassall, European managing director of Harvey Nash, told ZDNet.co.uk's sister site silicon.com: "Generally the demand levels that we've seen from some of the banking sector has been lower than it has been over the last 12/24 months."

But talk of a wider economic slowdown is not putting companies off hiring tech staff going into the new year, said Wassall, who added there is "still a skills shortage" in IT.

Stuart Packham, a director at recruitment consultancy Michael Page Technology, agrees. "Job flow is still very good. The industry is still busy and there are no signs of it slowing down," he said, adding: "I'd certainly say we've seen no direct impact on job numbers in it from the economic climate as such."

He added: "Candidate flow is very good. We've got lots of candidates who were onto us on 2 January."

Despite "all the talk of a Christmas slowdown", Packham said there hasn't been any slowdown in the retail sector, or elsewhere. "We're doing lots of recruitment in the commercial and FMCG sectors, and they're all busy," he added. "Everyone we're talking to at the moment is talking about strong hiring plans for this year."

Packham said: "Ultimately there's bound to be some slowdown in [FS] recruitment but we've not seen a direct impact this year."

Julia Bosworth, a manager on the contract staff side of the business for recruitment company Project Partners, which specialises in finding IT staff for the FS sector, said while demand for contract staff has been high, some of the big investment banks have slowed down permanent hires — which may be a result of the credit crunch.

Bosworth said: "The way the financial market is at the moment has led to massively increased demand on contract market, perhaps due to reluctance to rise the permanent headcount."

Bosworth added: "We're busier on contract than we have been for a while… If you've got specific skillsets or systems experience, that's always continuing to grow."

Harvey Nash's Wassell said the end of last year saw strong demand for IT staff with project management and business analysis skills. Tech workers with SAP and .NET knowledge were also in demand, he said.

Michael Page Technology's Packham also said project managers and business analysts are in demand, adding that around 80 percent of current recruitment work at his companies involves areas such as project management, business analysis and system analysis.

Those working in tech who have good business skills — such as strong communication skills and commercial acumen — are in highest demand, said Packham.

He said: "If you ask any CIO at the moment, their biggest recruitment need will be people who have strong communications skills, the ability to work at all levels of an organisation — so from end users through to director level — and who really have that ability to act as the genuine conduit and partner with the business."

He added: "We're seeing a lot of clients asking for… people who have the ability to understand what the problem is and find the right technical solution and implement it, not just find a piece of technology they know loads about and put it into the business."

The demand for IT and comms workers in the UK is at its highest level since the end of 2001, according to a recent report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Topics: Networking

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