According to a recent report, the number of IT staff currently employed is the highest for over seven years. However, current low demand is yielding fewer and fewer vacancies for contractors in the same sector. The Office of National Statistics counts 27,000 technology professionals currently unemployed in the UK.

The report, conducted by sector skills council e-skills UK, shows that ads for permanent jobs have fallen by 24%, and contractor jobs by 27%, over the last six months of 2008. Positions available for freelancers in the IT sector have fallen across all disciplines, with the largest fall in demand being for programmers, system designers and software engineers, each down by approximately 30%.

For guidance, the report recommends IT professionals and contractors alike to expand their skills into areas of technology which have continued to show a rise in demand, such as WAP, COM, Active and Sage, as well as programming environments like SQL, C, .NET, ASP, Java, Oracle and Unix.

“To us here at e-skills UK it would seem prudent, if you are in work, to bed down and make the most of what you’ve got,” the report states, “particularly in the contract market – after all, job openings are comparatively few and far between at the moment.”

Conclusively, the report emphasises that even though the current recession and slump in employment in the IT sector is difficult for many, the market looks considerably better now than it did in the early part of the decade.

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