New research from contractor recruitment finance provider Sonovate has found that the most in-demand contracting professionals in the UK are IT security experts.

The study found that the growth in security roles for Umbrella Company Employees and other flexible workers has hit a year-on-year high of 19 per cent. It doesn’t stop there: demand is on course to expand by 30 per cent during the rest of the year.

This research also shows that demand for User Experience (UX) experts is hot on the heels of demand for IT security pros. Roles in UX recorded a year-on-year expansion of 17 per cent. Meanwhile, roles in Architecture rose by five per cent over the same interval.

Breaking the figures down further, the study reveals that within the IT security bracket, the highest month-on-month demand went to consultants, at 52 per cent. Network security engineers and analysts were almost neck and neck in the demand league table, at 26 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

Commenting on the study, Sonovate Co-Founder and Co-CEO Richard Prime said: “IT security has always been important for companies looking to protect their business interests – something which has only been reinforced by the recent spate of high-profile data breaches and cyberattacks. In addition, changing attitudes to work have resulted in a burgeoning contractor market.”

He went on: “There’s a real appetite for high-quality contractors at the moment. This research says one thing loud and clear: it’s a great time to be an IT security recruiter, especially one with an eye for opportunity.”

Prime’s optimism, however, is tempered by a recent study from programmer community Stack Overflow, which points to a lack of knowledge about IT specialisms by recruiters in the context of a worsening skills shortage.

The skills shortage looks set to be exacerbated in the light of the Chancellor’s refusal to suspend controversial legislation aimed at eliminating tax relief on travel and subsistence expenses for virtually all contracting professionals working through Umbrella Companies. HMRC widened the definition of Supervision, Direction or Control (SDC) in such a way as to encompass contracting workers, who have always been regarded by hirers and recruiters alike as independent professionals, not employees.

The new definition includes not only actual SDC but the right of employers to supervise, direct or control. HMRC has indicated that the legislation is designed to abolish existing T&S tax relief for flexible workers engaged via Umbrellas or other employment intermediaries.

Though IT contractors and other independent professionals have traditionally travelled lengthy distances to complete time-limited projects for companies, the T&S tax relied abolition is likely to deter them from travelling to distant workplaces after 6th  April, significantly exacerbating the Great UK IT Skills Shortage.

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