Contractor Demand Still Not Rising Despite IT Skills Scarcity

A small blip in the growth of demand for IT contractors seems to cast doubt on the recent warnings from recruiters over skills shortages – described recently as ‘stubborn’ in the contracting sector and ‘growing’ within the permanent sector.

In actual fact, scarcity still exists in Business Intelligence, SQL & .Net and Development amongst IT contractors whilst overall demand went down from 64.0 to 62.9 from April 2014 onwards. Permanent IT job candidates also fell for the second month in a row but more relevant was the doubling of their skills on the scarce list.

There is a shortfall in numbers of full timers in nine different kinds of IT job, a rise from 5 kinds just one month ago, according to the latest  Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) report on jobs. According to the May report, the 9 areas that are scarce are, PHP, Java, Senior Development, Games Technology, eCommerce, Cloud, Digital Media and Business Analysis and Project Managers.

With so many clear skills shortages it becomes clear why REC’s Chief Executive, Kevin Green believes the big issue from the report is the difficulties companies and employers are having in attracting (and finding) the skill sets they need.  In previous years such a deficit in required skills amongst permanent IT staff would have represented a golden opportunity for contractors and temporary workers who had the skills being sought. These days however, firms are not looking to contractors to fill these skills gaps but rather looking into how to improve the wages they can offer (and their benefits packages) in the hope that they can tempt the top permanent talent to move to their firm.

This scarcity of IT skills was confirmed across the board recently with recruiters such as Harvey Nash revealing that when it comes to new projects, a majority of IT leaders in the UK are finding gaps in skills in their team that are ‘hindering progress. Bernard Brown from KPMG (who co-authored the REC report) also noted that the candidates out there were simply not offering employers the appropriate skills or alternatively they were out there but were hiding in the shadows.

The skills most required by IT leaders themselves were ‘doing’ skills, which included Project Management, Change Management, Software Development and IT strategy.

Top of the list of required skills for IT leaders were the ‘doing’ skills, such as Change Management, Project Management as well as IT Strategy and Software Development.