Skills shortages are appearing in the IT sector, according to a UK labour market report, which smart contractors are well-positioned to fill. Report on Jobs, sponsored by Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG management consultants, found ‘tightening candidate availability’ and evidence of IT skills shortages.
By Helen Beckett [Published 14/10/2010]
The bulletin also reported that pay was at a five-month low for contractors and that growth had weakened since the March peak. However, the August slow-down mirrored an industry-wide trend as few businesses hire during the summer break. Encouragingly for contractors, the IT sector, alongside engineering and accounting professions, performed better than other industries.
An interview with Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, sponsoring company of the report, put the following contractors on the wanted list for employers.
"The economic climate is still challenging but there are areas of shortage where contractors are particularly in demand", confirms Brown. He cites CAD (computer aided design) designers and engineers as one area of shortage: "This is probably linked to the fact that the engineering sector is doing relatively well", says Brown.
KPMG has observed investment continuing to flow into Internet marketing jobs and sales functions as businesses turn to the web to maximise their profits. Increased online activity has translated into a bigger call for temporary Internet developers.
Cyber security specialists
"There’s a big push to build and support cyber business", confirms Brown, and a recent strong financial performance by digital retailers, including Asos and Mulberry, bears this out. Unsurprisingly, therefore, cyber security jobs remain a hot spot.
Another theme of straitened times is that companies are continuing their efforts to extract the maximum value from their IT systems. This has created a requirement for middleware experts, recruitment firms agree, while business intelligence is another hot spot for contractors.
But while the provision of cutting-edge technology skills offers a real opportunity for UK contractors, believes Brown, he has words of warning for what he calls ‘commodity contractors’.
"The public sector’s pay review and attempt to reduce the structural deficit means that many government departments will bring tasks such as project management in-house", he predicts.
The closer skills get to becoming commodities, the more likely it is that employers will bring them in-house, with a shake-out predicted. The good news is that the jobs being created are much higher value. "Traditionally," says Brown, "the UK has been pretty good at supplying these. Smart contractors will equip themselves with these new-generation technology skills”.
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