The number of advertised vacancies for contractors has suffered its biggest fall for four years, according to the latest Computer Weekly/SSL salary survey. Where contractors lead, permanent jobs tend to follow. See Recruitment fears as contract jobs decline and Skills on the rise.
Contributing factors include fewer big-bang implementations, particularly in financial services, productivity improvements from the spread of development tools, and offshoring.
At the same time, the pace of change in IT means there will always be hot skills and skill shortages in specific technical areas.
The challenge, both for IT departments and individuals, is ensuring you have the correct mix of skills as the market shifts.
Conventional wisdom is that the long-term demand for purely technical IT skills in the UK will continue to decline, while people with both technical and business skills will be in high demand. That combination does not emerge fully formed from either a business school or a computer sciences degree. It has to be developed, as Steve Burrows underlines in his opinion piece on this page.
Individuals need to ensure that the training and experience they get benefits future career prospects, rather than merely providing a short-term fix to meet the immediate needs of an employer. This demands a much more rigorous, active approach to managing your own career.
For IT departments, the focus should be on developing the careers and skills of existing staff and on bringing in people from the rest of the business with an aptitude for technology.
If it gets the mix right, an organisation can ensure it has a loyal, motivated, productive workforce with the right skills at the right price.
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