Why did demand for IT contracting take that tumble in May, as recorded in the last REC/KPMG Report on Jobs? Jeff Brooks, who chairs the REC’s Technology Sector Group, believes he has worked out what happened.

In an article for ContractorUK, Mr Brooks reveals the outcome of his consultations with a broad range of REC Technology member companies. It appears that demand in the IT skills market flagged in May because a swathe of major IT projects in the banking and financial sector came to a natural close.

Elsewhere in the economy, firms and organisations are very far from ‘IT shut down mode’. Surprisingly, the public sector (especially health) has recently shown what one specialist recruiter described as “pronounced growth” in its demand for IT contractors. Moreover, freelance project managers are very much in demand in Government departments, a sign that new projects have already had their budgets signed off and are firmly in the pipeline.

Recruiters are becoming increasingly frustrated about the inordinately lengthy lead times for new appointments, however. It is by no means unheard of for permanent candidates to be required to attend six interviews, and temporary workers (including PAYE umbrella contractors) often have to attend three before getting their feet under a desk.

Even so, Mr Brooks found that most IT recruiters are optimistic about the temporary tech-jobs market, in spite of the May blip. Growth may not be stratospheric but it will continue, he believes, as companies continue to invest in technology “to give competitive edge; to reduce costs through consolidation of systems, or to deliver good governance and regulation across the client’s outfit – or often all three.”

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