Umbrella Company Employees who specialise in web development and software engineering have not only enjoyed a surge in demand but also a hike in pay rates, according to a leading recruitment firm.

Contracting as a software engineer or a web developer has rarely been more lucrative, new figures from Harvey Nash reveal. Between the beginning of August and the end of November there was a record-breaking surge in the purchase of smartphones and a simultaneous shortage of digital and mobile skills, the recruiter’s report finds.

It confirms findings in a recent technology industry survey that sampled 20 contractor roles. This revealed that, of all IT workers, freelance software engineers and web developers were the most likely to have a secured a pay rise in 2012.

The Harvey Nash study also suggests that employers are turning to contractors in preference to permies. Permanent openings in the industry fell by 4% during the four-month period, while contractor roles leapt by 19%.

The firm’s CEO, Albert Ellis, said: “The new digital economy continues to provide forward momentum in what is a lacklustre overall recruitment market. The economic uncertainty throughout the world has meant that clients have tended to favour flexible contract and temporary hiring above permanent recruitment.”

More clients wish to maintain a flexible workforce through hiring contractors while continuing to invest in new digital technology platforms and emerging markets, the recruiter explains.

It is not difficult to see why: economic conditions remain too precarious to justify much confidence in permanent hiring; however, consumers are shifting their online spending habits to mobile devices as never before, driving huge demand for digital skills.

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