IT contractor roles hit summer lull

Monday 10 August 2015

The latest index of IT contractor demand has been published in the form of the Report on Jobs by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG.

Overall, demand for contractors in this sector is down slightly at 59.3. While this is the lowest figure recorded since June 2013, any figure over 50 still reflects modest growth, meaning that contractors do not need to worry about the future.

The rate of new openings for permanent positions was also down, showing that what many believe to be a seasonal slowdown is taking effect across the industry.

Many recruiters will expect that candidates will have made holiday plans over the summer months, and may postpone hiring processes until the autumn as a result. The proof of this theory will be found if hiring experiences a similar rise once the cold weather arrives. However, the data to confirm or disprove this will not be available for some months.

The trend for taking holidays at this time of year extends to senior decision-makers, who may choose to wait so that they can be fully involved in the hiring process.

This does seem to be borne out by the overall figures, which found that contractor recruitment increased at the slowest rate in 25 months across all industries. This implies that there is a seasonal dip that is not particularly associated with the IT sector.

Reacting to the findings, KPMG said: “In July over two fifths of recruiters reported a fall in the number of people looking for work, the steepest decline seen in eight months.”

Interestingly, there was only IT area in which a skills shortage was reported relating to contractors: Java development. Any IT freelancers looking to develop their marketable skills would be well advised to consider this route if they are unsure of how to invest their time and money.

Those looking for permanent employees also found that there was a skill shortage in Java development, along with UX Design, .Net and four other key skills, highlighting further areas for contractors looking to fill gaps in the market through personal development.

However, KPMG’s Bernard Brown suggested that the hiring of permanent employees was being negatively impacted by what he viewed as a skills shortage. He added that this deficit “shows no signs of abating”.

He added: “This will have long term implications for their [businesses’] growth plans and potentially impact the wider performance of the UK’s economy.”
While the figures may not be the most encouraging, these factors mean that IT contractors should not worry. If they are looking for clients in this relatively quiet time, they may wish to spend their time boosting their skills so that they are as competitive as possible when the job market picks up in September.

By Victoria McDonnell

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