IT staff demand grows, wages grow, skills gap grows

Demand for IT workers continued to rise in August, once again bringing the skills shortage into sharp focus

Demand for IT workers continued to rise in August, according to the latest Report on Jobs, published by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

The monthly snapshot, measuring permanent vacancies in the IT sector, grew to 64.4, from 62.8 in July. This placed the IT sector fifth out of nine in the ‘league table’ during the latest survey period.

While the number of vacancies continued to rise, the number of skilled workers seeking employment fell at its steepest rate for over a year. The net result was another boost in salaries.

“There was no respite for recruiters in August, who were left struggling to fill vacancies after a vast swathe of Britain’s job seekers appeared to take the summer off,” commented Bernard Brown, Partner at KPMG. “The number of people looking for a job fell at the sharpest rate seen for a year, leaving unfilled posts across the economy.”

Brown said that in order to fill roles, businesses needed to think outside the box. “With candidates having their pick of the job market, companies need to offer more than just cash. In order to attract and retain the best people businesses need to offer a bespoke package of benefits, including flexible working, which can be tailored to suit the individual and their priorities and commitments.”

REC chief executive Kevin Green said that the skills shortage was forcing employers to focus on existing talent, rather than looking for fresh meat.

 “In response to worsening skills shortages, employers are focussing on retaining the staff they have and this will promote wage growth,” Green said. “Better investment in training and motivating the current workforce should also help to improve productivity.”

Green believes that while the market has not yet reached saturation point, the figures are beginning to slow.

“The UK jobs market is entering a new phase. Because of the scarcity of talent available, we expect that employment will continue to grow but at a slower speed than we have seen over the past two years. Likewise, unemployment is likely to slow its rate of descent as we move closer to full employment.”

Demand for short-term IT staff slipped to 58.7, from 59.1 in July, and marked the slowest rate of growth for 26 months. The UK average for temp staff was 60.5.

The statistics come a week after a survey from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and law firm DLA Piper, found that UK finance directors were more concerned about the skills shortage than they were about an in/out referendum on EU membership.

Ingrid Waterfield, a director at KPMG, told City A.M. that the tech sector faced particular exposure to the skills crisis.

“If we don’t act quickly to fill the gap, then the world’s next Google will once again fall outside of London,” he said.

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