Muted cheer as rate of IT job decline slows

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Careers in IT have been hit badly by the recession. Employers have shed staff at unprecedented rates, companies have accelerated their plans to move IT offshore, and vacancies for job hunters have been few and far between.

But the end may now be in sight. The latest Computer Weekly/SSL Quarterly Survey of Appointments Data and Trends shows that the decline in the IT jobs market may be levelling out.

The number of job vacancies advertised in inner London fell by 1.9% in the last quarter, compared with a 68% fall in the six months to March. And the number of jobs advertised by software houses and consultancies, which represent nearly 60% of the total jobs advertised, fell by 6.1%, compared with 24% in the last quarter of 2008.

However, with Microsoft last week reporting a 17% fall in revenues, it is too early to talk about recovery.
A worsening of the swine flu pandemic in the autumn could set back the economy still further.

Employee absence caused by swine flu could have a disproportionate effect on  small and medium-sized enterprises.

Up to 12% of the workforce is likely to be affected by the H1N1 virus by September, according to government estimates, forcing at least one in eight workers to stay at home.
Smaller organisations are the least prepared for an outbreak which could cost the economy up to £50bn.
The February snow storms proved the business value of working remotely via the internet, but more than half of the UK’s SMEs have not yet equipped key staff to do so.

Cloud computing services, such as Google Apps and Office Live, and voice over IP could allow staff to continue working if they cannot make it into the office.

It makes good business sense. Providing employees with remote access to company systems helps businesses to be more efficient and competitive in an increasingly tough environment. But companies need to start planning now, if they, and the economy, are not to be caught off-guard.