Specialists in IT contracting may be surprised to find new placements in a setting that has recently been cutting headcounts faster than a crazed Jacobin – the public sector. New research from Computer People reveals that public IT contract roles rose by 4.3% in September, reversing a trend that had in place every month since April.

During the same month, public sector permanent IT appointments continued to decline, although less sharply than previously. Umbrella companies supplying the IT skills market will not be blind to the fact that this is the first sign of non-commercial confidence in contractor hiring for at least two quarters.

The report concludes that in both local and central government agencies, business critical projects are still proceeding. Computer People director Sid Barnes said that, although times are still tough, the public sector “is more inclined to staff up with contract candidates, as hiring managers will have more flexibility and can attribute the cost to direct project line budgets, rather than incurring a fixed cost.”

He noted that contractor appointments have fared better than permanent equivalents over the last half year, suggesting that contractors are now picking up work that would once have gone to permanent appointees.

Mr Barnes continued “There was also a large increase in the number of projects that were taken off the shelf and new projects approved. Hiring managers also had new approved budgets and wanted to staff up early whilst quality contract staff were available.”

End-users are likely to increase their hiring of IT contractors in the first quarter of 2012 to spend excess budget before the close of the financial year.

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