Recruitment gets tougher as techies settle down

IT workers are increasingly unwilling to change jobs, potentially exacerbating the skills shortage and driving up wages, says recruitment body Atsco

Employers looking to recruit IT staff are facing tough times ahead, according to recruitment industry body Atsco, as the number of techies prepared to change jobs has fallen dramatically.

The proportion of IT workers looking for a new job or open to changing their existing one dropped to 28 percent in the last quarter, compared to close to half (42 percent) a year ago, according to research from Atsco, which polled 5,000 workers.

This shrinking pool of IT candidates could exacerbate skills shortages, said Atsco, and may also drive wages up as employers compete to win the best staff on offer.

Ann Swain, chief executive of Atsco, said in a statement: "Demand for IT skills is still high, so if people are reluctant to change jobs, employers may need to offer more generous compensation packages than they have budgeted for in order to get the skills they need."

Greater levels of job inertia among techies may also have implications for training, since workers are more likely to acquire new skills by changing jobs, meaning employers may have to spend more on training, said Atsco.

One of the reasons IT staff may have become less keen to move on could be down to the increasing value of share options they have acquired, Atsco added.

Swain said: "Share options in web start-ups are potentially much more valuable now. People have seen the big Web 2.0 acquisitions and think the company they work for might be next. It's definitely had an impact on labour market mobility."

Expanding training opportunities and boosting the skills of the UK workforce is an ongoing focus for government. The Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills this week announced an expansion to its business training support programme, "Train to Gain", which includes a funding boost for SME management training — from £4m per year to £30m per year — which it says will support some 60,000 key directors and managers in around 42,000 companies over the next three years.

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