IT contract market grows yet again

Thursday 10 October 2013

As technology becomes ever more crucial within the business world, demand for IT skills is likely to keep growing. This is very much the picture painted by specialist recruiters Computer People in their latest IT Monitor report, which shows that IT contractors are enjoying even higher demand and seeing pay rises to boot.

Figures published for July show that in spite of the traditional summer holiday slowdown, most subsectors of the IT contract market saw an increase of 22.4 per cent in vacancies from the previous month. Indicating that this belongs to a broader upward trend, the number of fresh opportunities rose by just over 11 per cent from the same period last year. Although this did not quite match up to the increases in permanent positions, which shot up by nearly a fifth month-on-month and close to a quarter from the previous year, it shows that demand for freelance professionals with technology skills is clearly not about to decline.

Among specific subsectors of the IT industry, the biggest rise in vacancies was an increase of nearly 27 per cent at director level, but so few of those positions are ever available that it remains a small section of the market. More significant are the increases of 12.5 per cent in vacancies for IT security specialists and network engineers - with companies becoming ever more concerned with data protection and network security, it is unlikely that these disciplines will see much decline in the coming months.

Business analysts, project managers, technical architects and enterprise resource planners were all among the contractors seeing demand rise across the year. Only one discipline saw a dramatic decline - compared to the year before, vacancies for database administrators fell by 14.4 per cent in July. However, business intelligence and software testing reported much smaller drops of 1.1 and 1.2 per cent respectively.

Every region saw demand improve in the year to July, but Scotland fared particularly well with vacancies growing by more than 40 per cent. Wales and the West Midlands both also performed strongly, although the north-east continues to lag behind with only a 0.2 per cent rise in opportunities.

“Should these trends continue, and the signs are that they will, the IT sector will once again become a candidate driven market,” writes Computer People managing director Niall Cook in his introduction to the report.

“Companies with the budget to hire now would be well advised to do so, for leaving the hiring towards the back end of the year, could well leave positions unfilled, and salary costs spiraling.“

Salaries are already rising for contractors with the right skills and experience. The report shows that build release managers saw their average rate double from June to July, while network engineers enjoyed a 44 per cent pay rise.  Similarly, rates for network security engineers rose by more than a third and SAP consultants saw pay rise as much as 14.6 per cent. Data administration continued to suffer, though - as well as declining numbers of vacancies, it was a role in this category, that of data engineer, which saw the biggest monthly drop in pay of more than an eighth.


By Victoria McDonnell

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