Web techies buck downward trend

The IT jobs market may have fallen to its lowest level since 1995, declining again during the second quarter of this year, but demand for IT professionals...

The IT jobs market may have fallen to its lowest level since 1995, declining again during the second quarter of this year, but demand for IT professionals with internet skills is climbing to record highs.

According to the latest Computer Weekly/SSP salary trends survey, the number of IT jobs advertised in the last quarter was down to 25,000, a drop of almost 50 per cent on the same period a year ago.

This downturn marks the sixth consecutive quarterly fall in recruitment activity and has dashed any hopes of a market recovery, say analysts.

While the report notes a decline across all types of IT jobs, including software engineers, networking specialists and managers, the worst affected appear to be the more "traditional roles", particularly in mainframe and midrange sites.

Analyst/programmer vacancies, which last year accounted for 22 per cent of all jobs on offer, slipped from 10,000 to 2,200, or just nine per cent of jobs in the last quarter, while programming positions dropped from 3,000 advertised vacancies to 1,000 for the current period.

Yet despite the decrease in recruitment activity, the findings, perhaps unsurprisingly, indicate an escalating demand for staff with internet and e-commerce skills.

Particularly sought after is Java, which is superseded only by C++ on the skills league table. It was specified in over 4,000 jobs during April, May and June, a 70 per cent rise on the same period last year.

Generic internet expertise has also gained in popularity, being required in three times as many jobs than a year ago, while advertising for HTML has doubled.

According to the report, much of the demand for these skills is coming from the software house sector, which accounts for two-thirds of all Java, HTML and XML advertisements placed.

The survey also considers any alterations in salaries offered and indicates that in the last quarter, the median increase in salary was 3.4 per cent. While virtually the same as the headline inflation rate, this figure is less than the average earnings increase of 5.1 per cent across the whole of the UK workforce, says the survey.

The Computer Weekly/SSP survey is based on an analysis of advertisements for computer staff in the trade press, quality national dailies and Sundays. It is primarily intended for recruitment agencies and IT managers involved in recruiting staff.

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