Developers wanted as IT vacancies hit five-year high

The number of IT jobs being advertised has risen by 26% since the start of the year, pushing vacancies to their highest level for five years.

The number of IT jobs being advertised has risen by 26% since the start of the year, pushing vacancies to their highest level for five years.

The latest Computer Weekly/SSL Survey of IT Appointments Data and Trends found that firms are struggling to find developers and project managers with the right skills. Several said they were resorting to outsourcing development, or hiring contract staff to fill positions.

The number of jobs advertised for development staff rose by 8.1% between the second and third quarters, from 42,611 to 46,072. Demand for systems developers grew by 10%, with 33,834 advertised positions.

Recruitment agencies said the high number of integration and regulatory compliance projects have led to a surge in demand for developers and project managers.

Lawrence Levy, managing director at recruitment firm Levy Associates, said, "There are a lot of integration projects due to companies merging. Companies also want online systems, which are more efficient and cheap to run, and this is what Java and .net developer skills provide. New regulations, such as Basel 2, also mean lots of compliance projects."

Jon Butterfield, managing director at Rethink Recruitment, said, "The market for Java and .net skills is going absolutely beserk. You just cannot find people, and companies are having to import from Poland."

Gideon Kay, IT and business services manager at Haden Building Management, said the firm had experienced difficulty in recruiting.

"There is no shortage of systems developers who can attend interview, but most do not meet our criteria of technical, interpersonal, communication and creativity skills," he said. "What is driving this demand is the need for innovation, and this means enhanced IT systems."

Ian Campbell, CIO at British Energy, said, "There are difficulties, because there are a greater number of business-led projects than a few years ago. These projects increasingly require substantial support from IT. The projects have also got more complex, so staff need to be more experienced. Competition for developers, especially for certain skills, is intense."

The shortages have had a disproportionate impact on public sector organisations, which are unable to match private sector salaries.

Jos Crease, IT director at Hampshire County Council, said, "There is a disparity between public and private sector pay. Applicants from private organisations have often been paid double what we can afford, and yet I would consider them to be unappointable."

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