Demand for IT contractors up 25%

The demand for IT contractors in the final quarter of 2003 was up 25% year-on-year, providing confirmation that the IT jobs...

The demand for IT contractors in the final quarter of 2003 was up 25% year-on-year, providing confirmation that the IT jobs market is recovering from its biggest slump in a decade.

Demand for permanent IT staff has risen by 4.6% and demand for some posts, such as systems developers, was up by 34% between the third and final quarters last year, the latest SSL/Computer Weekly Quarterly Survey of Appointments Data and Trends has revealed.

However, the rapid growth of offshore outsourcing since 2000 has meant that recovery is likely to be slower than in the past with fewer skills shortages and employers less willing to train staff said industry observers. IT professionals may need to invest their own money to upgrade their skills to meet the latest demands.

Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, said, "If employers are going to invest, they are going to invest in India because it is cheaper and they can get tax breaks. This means that individuals are going to have to train themselves if they want to compete with people in the Far East."

Anthony Miller, principal analyst at Ovum Holway, said the combination of a slow recovery and offshore outsourcing would be a "double whammy" for IT professionals seeking to upgrade their skills and for training companies offering courses.

"We are not predicting the skills shortage we saw at the end of the 1990s. We think demand for new projects will be modest, although there will be pockets of skills that will be in demand," Miller said.

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