New calculations from the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology (e-skills) suggests that PAYE umbrella techies specialising in IT contracting will be heavily in demand between now and 2020 as the IT sector expands vigorously.

Contractors earning a living in the IT skills market will no doubt be heartened to hear that the professional IT workforce is predicted to grow over the next nine years at a rate of 1.62% per annum – almost twice the rate of the general workforce. The danger of a skills shortage is also highlighted in the report – 148,000 openings are forecast each year, caused largely by people leaving IT roles. Experienced techies will fill only around 19,000 of these; the rest, an estimated 129,000, will need to be filled by entirely new recruits who have jumped ship from other professional backgrounds.

Demand will be highest in the top-end areas, e-skills predicts, including project management, risk management, change management, business process, systems architecture, security and web development.

The lion’s share of the available jobs (67%) will be for senior/managerial professionals – principally IT strategists and ICT managers – but senior software experts will also be required. 17% will be for operations and support technicians, while 8% each will go to computer engineers and administrative technicians (eg database assistants).

Although IT career paths in the UK suffered to some extent from the trend to outsource IT roles to lower-cost countries, the report notes that this very tendency has created new opportunities: there are, it says, “immediate requirements focussing around areas such as cloud computing and security and data protection.”

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