Firms warned to retain IT staff as job market improves

IT departments were warned today to take steps to retain their top IT staff as the job market for IT professionals picks up. Sid Barnes, executive...

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IT departments were warned today to take steps to retain their top IT staff as the job market for IT professionals...

picks up.

Sid Barnes, executive director of recruitment group Adecco, which owns Spring and Computer People, said that IT staff were beginning to move jobs again after two years of stagnation in the jobs market.

"Attrition rates are normally 20%. Over the past years they have dropped to 5%. Now the market is picking up again, people will use aggressive marketing and headhunting to fill posts," said Barnes.

In previous downturns, companies shed permanent staff and replaced them with contractors. Now, however, companies are holding on to permanent staff rather than paying higher fees demanded by contract staff.

As a result, there is a more limited pool of permanent staff on the job market than in previous downturns, making poaching more likely.

"Demand for business analysts is increasing. Demand for project managers is also on the increase quite significantly as well," said Barnes.

"Contract rates have been flat. But permanent salaries have increased month-on-month over the past 18 months, although they are still not at pre-2008 levels," he said.

The IT jobs market collapsed in early 2009. Demand for permanent IT staff plummeted by 60% to 70%, and demand for contractors dropped by 40%, Barnes said.

But the market for permanent IT staff recovered dramatically in August that year, as companies realised they could no longer afford to put off major IT projects.

For the past 18 months, demand for permanent staff has seen month-on-month growth. Some firms have been forced to hire contractors because they can't find permanent staff, said Barnes



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