We’ve recently reported on a number of surveys suggesting that IT contracting in the UK is in rude health despite the grim economic climate. Now Reed Recruitment has joined the optimistic chorus, with its senior divisional director, Andrew Gardner, predicting that freelancers in the IT skills market will continue to enjoy high demand in Q1 of 2012.

In fact, in news that will bring cheer to PAYE umbrella contractors in all sectors, he noted that demand for contract roles has been rising “across the board.” Mr Gardner believes that the trend will continue into the New Year, as employers remain “nervous” about appointing permanent staff to undertake new projects.

While he doesn’t foresee a boom in the contractor jobs market any time soon, he thinks that demand will remain strong, especially with respect to IT contractors. “Businesses almost can’t do without IT now,” he said, adding “It’s not an optional service.”

Retailers in particular are likely to enhance their Web capability after Christmas; they tend not to interfere with their systems during December because it is such a crucial period for them.

Given that both IT contractor roles and permanent jobs have been falling in financial services recently (unsurprisingly, given the joint effects of the economic gloom and the reforms the government is forcing on the sector), the uptake of contractors in other sectors is a welcome development. However, employers are being more meticulous in their selection; candidates have traditionally undergone three interviews before clinching the post but today, Gardner noted, they’re being grilled more frequently.

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