In a report on IT recruitment from analyst firm Ovum Holway, it was stated that although the market for permanent jobs remains slow, the contract market has stabilised and shows signs of recovery for 2004.
Recruitment companies are cautiously optimistic that things will continue to pick up in 2004, and we have already seen an increase in project spend for contract positions.
If past trends hold true, it is likely that we will see the permanent market begin to pick up by the end of next year.
This year salary rates have stabilised and I believe this will be maintained in 2004 as companies are not spending as yet. We expect business confidence to grow over the next 12 months as market conditions improve. This should see the purse strings loosen slightly, with overdue IT projects becoming an an early priority. But do not expect the market to turn around overnight.
In terms of skills, SAP and .net are in great demand. The expected growth in 3G and wireless may also result in further demand for telecoms specialists.
There has been a lot of debate about the growing trend towards offshore outsourcing, and this is likely to continue.
Another trend we can expect to see in 2004 is the continuing business requirement for higher-value services, such as managed teams, on-site consultants and interim management, rather than commodity staffing.
Organisations are increasingly seeking suppliers that can offer a full range of products and services, including flexible and tailored delivery and pricing models, and which are not limited merely to the traditional "placement" business.
As the IT recruitment market changes to adapt to business throughout 2004, companies will continue to streamline the number of suppliers they deal with for greater efficiency.
William Grubs is chief executive of Spring Technology Staffing Services
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