IT vacancies dry up twice as fast as jobs in other industries

Demand for IT staff fell at twice the rate of demand for staff in all industries, according to the latest employment survey from sector skills council E-Skills UK.

Demand for IT staff fell at twice the rate of demand for staff in all industries, according to the latest employment survey from sector skills council E-Skills UK.

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.

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