Overall demand for staff in the UK fell by 5% in Q3 2008 to approximately 1.9 million vacancies, but the number of ICT positions on offer dropped 10% to 161,000 positions, E-Skills UK reported.
There was falling demand for both permanent and contract posts as vacancies shrank by 9% and 13% respectively over the quarter to 130,000 and 31,000 positions, it said.
Paradoxically, the number of firms that said it was harder to find skilled staff almost double from 17% to 31%.
E-Skills UK, which monitors job advertising to compile its figures, said the only rise in demand was for programmers and operations staff, which rose 4% and 1% respectively were observed over Q2-Q3 2008.
Networking jobs fell furthest (down 17%) among permanent positions. This was followed by database (down 13%), PC support (down 12%), software engineering (down 12%) and systems development jobs (down 10%).
Among contract positions, there were declines of up to 20% or more in the case of internet positions and PC support staff. There were falls of 10% for the remaining groups and only software engineering rose - by 1%.
Even staff with specialist skills did not escape. Demand for permanent staff fell for around two-thirds of the technical skills, with long-term falls noted for SAP, Embedded and Windows NT in particular, down 5%, 5% and 15% respectively in consecutive quarters.
Contractors fared little better. Demand fell for just over 25% of technical skills. Frame Relay, Delphi, Macromedia, Active X and Corba in particular all noted declines of 100% compared with the previous quarter.
However, these declines were limited to one quarter only. The figures showed a longer-term decline (ie four consecutive quarters) in demand for .net, JCL, OOD, SMTP and VBA. "No skills increased in demand over more than two consecutive quarters," E-Skills said.