Demand for IT staff hits a five-year high

Outsourcing helps drive demand for high-end technical skills

The number of job vacancies for permanent IT professionals has soared over the past three months, as employers seek staff with the high-end technical and management skills needed to manage outsourcing contracts.

The latest Computer Weekly/SSL salary survey shows that the jobs market is booming, following a 5% growth in the number of advertised positions over the past six months to 122,987 - the highest level for five years.

The upturn has also been driven by organisations investing in IT systems to improve efficiency and gain competitive advantage over rivals, following several years of stagnant IT spending.

"There is a lot of corporate activity. A lot of corporations are making money. We are over the horrible post-Y2K bust, and corporations are investing a lot of money in IT," said Jon Butterfield, managing director at ReThink Recruitment.

The SSL research shows demand for management positions rose by nearly 20% over the three months to April, with strong rises in the number of vacancies for system development managers, operations managers and communications managers.

Project managers with SAP skills remain highly sought-after, following an 18% rise in the number of vacancies from the first quarter of the year. This is up by nearly 50% on the same period last year.

Competition from employers for experienced SAP professionals has pushed up salaries for experienced project managers by 16%, well above average IT salary increases of 3.1%.

Demand for IT professionals with Prince2 project management skills has also risen sharply, up 40% compared with a year ago. This has been driven by rising demand from the public sector.

"There is a shortage of skills in the market generally," said Paul Smith, managing director for outsourcing at recruitment firm Harvey Nash.

"Companies are looking to lock down their senior people with contracts and benefits. The critical hires are the project managers, the programme managers, and the technical architects."

The upturn has been driven by growing demand for skilled IT staff from software houses and the financial sector, which together accounted for 78% of the advertised permanent jobs.

Permanent recruitment in the public sector also rose by 11% over the past two quarters, following nine months of stagnation.

Recruitment agencies have warned of possible skills shortages if demand continues.

"I think we are on the edge of a skills shortage. There are areas where there are already shortages, and its going to get more intense," said Butterfield

Read past salary surveys >>

Average IT salaries on the rise >>

MP warns on skills gap >>

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