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Salaries on the rise as IT jobs recovery strengthens

Bill Goodwin
Demand in financial firms and IT suppliers leads 31% jump in vacancies

The number of job vacancies advertised for IT professionals has grown rapidly over the past three months, as the recovery in the jobs market accelerates.

Compared to the same period in 2003, the total number of advertised jobs is up by 31%, and contractor vacancies are up by 49%, the latest SSL/Computer Weekly Quarterly Survey of Appointments Data and Trends has revealed.

Growth in demand for systems developers and project managers has been particularly pronounced, providing evidence that organisations are once again investing in new systems.

John Handby, chief executive of IT networking group CIO Connect, said, "Quite a lot of projects are being unwrapped to start work. Some projects, such as infrastructure and systems refreshes, were last carried out before 2000 and are now due."

The upturn has been accompanied by the highest average pay rises seen in the IT profession since the Y2K boom in 1999 - equivalent to 4% for permanent staff and 5.6% for contract staff.

Electronics, communications and retail companies, as well as the public sector, have stepped up recruitment of IT staff, but recruitment is highest among banks and financial services firms and IT suppliers, the survey revealed.

Jane Binner, associate director of recruitment company Computer People, said, "The financial sector is recruiting heavily. There are a lot of new developments - updating of technology, complete rewriting of systems, getting their systems up to speed again."

Some financial services companies have been reportedly offering to raise the salaries of key staff by a third, rather than lose them to rivals, Binner said.

Many IT professionals are changing jobs to boost their salaries, said Sean Zimdahl, managing director of Aston Carter, which specialises in recruiting IT staff for financial companies.

"The market is very strong. We have never seen so many roles out there. People are moving because they feel under-compensated after several years of low pay rises," he said.

The survey found that recruitment began to accelerate in May and June, pushing the total number of job vacancies advertised in the second quarter to 73,160, up from 65,722 in the first quarter of the year.

Unix is the skill most in demand and for the first time Linux is in the top 20 skills. Windows NT is in 10th place and Windows 2000 is in 12th place.

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