Contract roles on the rise in IT

Wednesday 4 November 2015

The third quarter of 2015 proved a fruitful period for IT specialists looking for short-term, contract-based work, according to recent research.

Specialist staffing agency Experis highlighted positive trends for freelancers operating in this sector after conducting an analysis of over 52,000 positions advertised between July and September.

It found that the number of available contract roles increased by six per cent to 5,849, bucking the traditional trend of vacancies slowing down during the summer months.

There was a decline in permanent jobs advertised across the ten surveyed 'tech cities', which included London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Furthermore, average day rates for IT contractors increased by four per cent to £410, while permanent salaries dropped by one per cent.

Geoff Smith, managing director of Experis Europe, said employers are looking to entice flexible, short-term workers with contract roles at attractive rates.

"With specialists and rare skills in high demand, more companies everywhere are opting for contract resource to fill pressing needs - as well as to cover seasonal holidays," he continued.

"Candidates also prefer contract roles when the market is buoyant, as fewer of them are seeking the safe harbour of a more secure permanent role."

While London continues to offer the highest wages for IT specialists, regional cities like Cambridge, Manchester and Leeds delivered stronger rates of pay growth during the third quarter.

In terms of sub-sectors within the industry, big data continues to offer the most attractive financial rewards, with average contractor day rates of £539 and salaries of £62,809.

Both Edinburgh and Birmingham were found to offer higher average pay than London for big data roles.

One of the fastest-growing fields in IT is cloud computing, which has generated a 20 per cent increase in available jobs since the first quarter of this year.

Cloud positions now offer the second-highest average contractor day rates (£453) and salaries (£53,430), putting the sector ahead of IT security for the first time.

Mr Smith explained that skills in new, rapidly evolving technologies are generally in short supply, which means increased demand and greater earning potential for specialists.

"Cloud is rapidly becoming a vital component across business of all sizes, accounting for the high demand," he added.

Focusing on regional trends, Experis said tech cities across the UK are starting to offer stiffer competition for London in the battle to secure the most valuable IT talent.

The number of jobs advertised in the capital between July and September dropped by eight per cent to 35,610, while cities like Manchester, Leeds and Bristol offered more opportunities.

One of the standout performers was Glasgow, where investment in digital transformation projects within financial services fuelled an almost twofold increase in IT vacancies compared to the previous quarter.

Mr Smith said: "This has been the dominant trend through 2015: a country invigorated by positive economic sentiment to hi-tech skills. Efforts related to the government's Northern Powerhouse initiative are set to further support this trend."


By Victoria McDonnell

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