Global recruitment giant Morgan McKinley has some modestly encouraging news for PAYE umbrella contractors working in financial IT: its London Employment Monitor reveals that January saw a 64% surge in the availability of financial services jobs, which include permanent and contractor roles.

However, while welcome, the figure represents a fall of 52% on January 2011, suggesting that the sector is still far from fully recovered. Contractors specialising in the financial IT skills market can still draw a modicum of comfort from the fact that the month saw a reversal of the decline in hiring activity that had occurred over the previous two months.

Even so, Morgan McKinley’s Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Evans, had some cautionary words about the trends:

“[D]espite the fact that January shows a rebound, we have to put this into perspective; the total number of available roles in January 12 was just over half the number of January 11 which was in itself a relatively subdued month for hiring compared to previous years. Despite the welcome monthly uplift, this 52% drop on the number of jobs in January 11 indicates we are still in a very cautious hiring market.”

There was, however, a rise in starting salaries during the month, which stood 4% higher than in January 2011.

Mr Evans added that uncertainty in the sector was being fanned by a constantly changing regulatory landscape and by alterations to the structure of remuneration in many financial institutions. A consequence, however, has been an active rise in IT contracting, as firms endeavour to access much-needed skills while keeping permanent headcounts low.

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