Demand for IT skills on a contract basis grew in December at its fastest pace for more than 15 years, according to a recent report, and labour market figures released last week showed that the month was the most buoyant for IT contractors since August 1998. The Report on Jobs by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation scored demand for temporary IT/Computing workers at 66.1 – the highest reading for 184 months, as a result of both rising business confidence and generally strong economic data.
This is particularly encouraging as it flies in the face of some fears by the contracting community that hirers would revert to permanent resources as the recovery takes hold, as well as scotching the trend for a December slump in demand.
The report data shows that IT contractors have become the most sought-after temporary professional in the UK, ahead of eight other professions of contractor, including engineering, with demand highest in the areas of Business Intelligence, .Net, PHP, Java, Digital Marketing and Web Development, due to the continuing scarcity of these skills.
A second January report, from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, shows placements by IT job agencies rising compared with both last January and December 2013.
Both reports link the strong IT contractor demand to skills shortages in Computing and the APSCo data suggests hirers are taking steps to secure the expertise they want now – the number of ads put out to freelance IT specialists increasing by 22 per cent against the same time last year.
A third recent report put IT contractors just ahead of engineers and then banking temps in terms of pay rate rises in 2013.
The concern remains that the shortages of these and other skills in the UK will actually act as a brake on growth, an angle that really needs to be taken account of by the current select committee on PSCs and IR35, and the impact on those willing to operate as freelance contractors that any recommendations they make may have.