The state of things to come

There are several reasons to be cheerful in this week's edition of Computer Weekly.

There are several reasons to be cheerful in this week's edition of Computer Weekly.

Reasons to be cheerful, part one: the results of the latest Computer Weekly/SSL Quarterly Skills and Salary Survey reveal that the plummeting demand for IT skills in the UK seems to have bottomed out. At last, the recruitment climate for permanent staff is not getting worse - and for contractors it has begun to improve - which suggests that things should now start to get better.

Reasons to be cheerful, part two: the Computer Weekly/DP Connect "state of the IT nation" survey of IT professionals paints a picture of a resilient, motivated and dedicated IT workforce, proud of the contribution it makes to UK business and optimistic about the future.

Reasons to be cheerful, part three: this week, we celebrate the sterling work of marine lab IT manager, Sandra Chenery, who was picked from a host of entries to be the Computer Weekly/First Option IT Personality of the Year. Sandra was chosen for her hard work in keeping spirits up in a time of redundancies and for her ambassadorial work in promoting the field of science and technology as a potential career path to local schoolchildren.

Of course, it is not all good news. Our skills and salary survey reveals that the government is still under the impression that an IT skills shortage exists, and that issuing ever more work visas to overseas workers is the solution. (It will need to start heeding the results of surveys like these if it is to forge a sensible policy on IT work permits.)

There is sobering news, too, in our state of the IT nation survey. Three-quarters of respondents report that the undeserved, geeky image of IT persists and that colleagues in other departments still fail to grasp exactly what it is the IT department does. And one in two concede that morale in the IT department has been dented by the loss of colleagues through redundancy. These are difficult times for the IT function. The larger economic downturn has sparked brutal budgetary cuts that have forced departments to shelve projects and lay off valued employees and contractors.

But IT chiefs returning to the office this week from their annual summer breaks can at least rest comfortably in the knowledge that they have the support of an inspiring and committed workforce that is determined to demonstrate its value to UK companies. And those unfortunate IT professionals currently seeking employment can take heart from the fact that an upturn in the recruitment market at last seems to be on the cards.

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