PAYE umbrella contractors in the IT skills market could well see increased demand for their services in 2011 from an unexpected source – the public sector. The Executive Chairman of the digital market research company Interquest, Gary Ashworth, has claimed that the lengthy “paralysis” seen in the public sector during the run up to and immediate aftermath of the government’s spending cuts has now come to an end.

For professionals in the field of IT contracting at least, 2011 may not be as bad as many had predicted vis-à-vis public sector demand. In the course of an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper, Mr Ashworth conceded that the immediate effect of the spending cuts was a sharp decrease in the use of freelance contractors. Over the last six months, demand for their services in the public sector fell by a precipitous 35 per cent. However, he was confident that the picture was now improving. He justified his view that the public sector’s contractor recruitment paralysis had ended by citing the rise in contractor numbers which has occurred recently.

According to Mr Ashworth, the brighter outlook for contractor placements has been driven in large measure by the merger of government departments, which has inevitably required greater investment in IT – newly shared services such as finance and procurement have to be efficiently integrated and IT expertise will continue to be essential to achieve this fusion.

He believes that IT contractors with skills in enterprise architecture, programme transformation and customer relationship management will be especially in demand during 2011.

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