Employers struck by shortage of .net skills

Employers are struggling to find developers with .net skills, as demand for skilled IT staff continues to rise.

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Employers are struggling to find developers with .net skills, as demand for skilled IT staff continues to rise.

The latest Computer Weekly/SSL salary survey, which analy­ses web and press advertisements for IT professionals, shows the job market to be at its most buoyant for six years.

It reveals an increase in all IT vacancies, with permanent vacancies advertised in the last quarter up 11% to 131,517, and contract vacancies up 18% to 33,006, on the same period last year. Vacancies for .net developers have jumped 24%, compared with the same period in 2006.

The Microsoft .net development environment is proving particularly popular because it allows firms to rapidly produce web-based software. Shortages of .net combined with shortages of Java and C# have contributed to a 3% rise in permanent salaries in three months, the report says.

IT directors told Computer Weekly that it is becoming harder to find people with .net skills.

"We managed to get the skills we needed at the right price, we just had to look a bit harder. We were slightly shocked at the price of some .net people," said Toby Clarke, group IT director at insurance firm Abbey Protection Group.

Steve Howells, director of programme management and technology at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, said, "We had to get four contract staff in because we had difficulties filling the permanent jobs. We are hoping to overcome it by being a good place to work - the market is definitely on the side of the employees."

Recruiters said that in some cases they were having to look abroad to find suitable IT professionals.

"Companies are spending money on IT, and we are having to get much more creative in finding staff. Some companies are looking at trying to entice people from places like Australia," said Michael Bennett, director at Rethink Recruitment.

Aidan Anglin, director of IT recruitment at Spring Group, said, "It is probably the deepest shortage we have seen for some period, but I think supply will catch up with demand."

Some CIOs are getting around the problem by training staff in-house, or by planning for shortages.

Ian Campbell, group CIO at British Energy, said, "Companies need to anticipate shortages and build a relationship with those who provide them."

Demand for .net is likely to increase with the launch of Windows Server 2008 early next year - a move expected to prompt firms to upgrade their infrastructure.

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