IT jobs market on the mend, say recruiters

The number of permanent and contractor jobs in IT is increasing, while specific skills remain in demand, according to KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

The number of jobs in IT is improving, according to an organisation that represents recruitment agencies.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said the worst of the recession has now passed and that the number of IT jobs — permanent and contract — is rising. The REC published the results on Wednesday in a report released jointly with accountancy firm KPMG.

The report stated that 'IT and computing' was the fastest growing sector for permanent jobs in the UK, out of eight studied. The REC gave the sector a score of 65.1 for March, where a figure above 50 means the number of jobs has grown since the previous month. For contract jobs, IT and computing came second, with a score of 58.5. According to the report, both figures represent an improvement on the situation one year ago, when the UK was in the trough of the recession, and the number of jobs was falling at its sharpest. In March 2009, both indices showed falling recruitment, with a figure of 32.9 for permanent jobs and 32.5 for temporary staff.

Sean Gallagher, board director of the REC, told ZDNet UK on Wednesday: "We have been round that proverbial corner for some time. Demand for staff has been steadily increasing. IT is at the very core of any 21st century company so it would be natural to expect that demand for IT staff would be one of the first to return. We are seeing that."

Gallagher said that demand for staff had been buoyed by mothballed IT projects being re-animated, and also by the financial year end, when companies use up their annual budgets. He said there was particular demand for business analysts, software analysts, project managers and those with skills in software testing and SharePoint, Microsoft's collaboration software.

Despite the increase in demand for IT professionals, their bargaining position remains weak, said the REC. Asked whether salaries had risen, and whether employees now had more power in wage negotiations, Gallagher said: "There is some pressure there. But as a general statement, I don't think we are past the equilibrium yet."

Gallagher added that there is a risk that the UK may re-enter the recession due to uncertainty caused by the upcoming general election. "We're all in the hands of economic uncertainty. And people are tightening their belts again in the face of political uncertainty. I do think that will breed uncertainty and that will lead to organisations taking a far more cautious view."

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