Further confirmation of the recovery in the IT jobs market came this week in research by E-Skills UK, which revealed that the number of IT jobs advertised in the press, job centres and recruitment agencies is rising.
The survey, which pulls together research from the Office of National Statistics, recruitment companies and the Computer Weekly/SSL Quarterly Survey of Appointments Data and Trends, showed a sharp increase in recruitment activity at the end of 2004.
The number of people working in IT and communications rose for the third successive quarter in the last three months of 2004 to 962,000, as organisations took long-delayed IT projects off the backburner.
The upturn led to a fall in the unemployment rate for IT and communications professionals in the last quarter of 2004, from 2.9% to 2.4%.
The number of jobs advertised in the press and on the internet rose by 38%, equivalent to 35,000 jobs, from the second to the third quarter last year, bringing the total number of recorded job adverts to 127,000.
The end of 2004 saw a large increase in demand for contractors, with advertised vacancies up 54%. Advertised vacancies for permanent posts rose by 33%.
The number of vacancies registered by recruitment agencies also rose significantly in the final quarter, representing steady month on month growth since July 2003. ITC vacancies at job centres were up by 4%.
The upturn has seen average salaries for permanent staff rise from £36,600 to £37,200, an increase of 2%, but there was a slight reduction in the average contract rate, from £36 an hour to £35 an hour.
Over the five quarters to the end of 2005 demand has risen consistently for systems architects and planners, PC support staff, systems analysts, analyst programmers and senior test analysts.
On the technical side, demand for ITC professionals with Flash, voice over IP, JDBC, Office and Sybase skills has also risen. Out of 148 technical skills monitored by Computer Weekly/SSL, demand for IT professionals in 75 skills areas increased.
Skills likely to be in demand in the future include RFID, web design skills, ERP, database, security, testing and project management, the survey predicted.
Despite strong signs of an upturn, the number of ITC professionals in user organisations seeking to change jobs fell by 3% in the final quarter of the year, raising concerns about possible skills shortages later in 2005.
Firms are doing little to increase their investment in training for future skills needs, the survey revealed. The number of IT professionals that had recently received training remained static at 29%, with telecoms professionals the most likely to have received training.
In the last few months of 2004, only 2% of firms said they were experiencing IT skills shortages, and only 7% were expecting difficulties recruiting over the next six months, suggesting that skills shortages have yet to bite.
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