Report Points to Positive Glimmer For UK IT Jobs

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Reports conflict on how IT is weathering the downturn compared to other professions but the outlook is bleak across the board

IT sector jobs have been hit hard, but may not be decling as fast as jobs in othyer sectors, according to a report released late last week.

The decline in demand for new IT staff may be slowing down, according to the report, from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG  According to the index used in the REC/KPMG March Report where 50 refers to no change in recruitment demand, with a figure below that showing a drop in demand and a number greater than fifty showing an increase, demand for permanent IT staff was at 31.9 – higher than any other sector apart from healthcare professionals.

“These figures are an improvement on the last six months. They indicate the pace of deterioration in the jobs market is easing and this rings true with what recruitment businesses are seeing on the ground,” said Kevin Green, Chief Executive of REC, which represents the interests of the recruitment industry.

But despite some positive aspects to the REC/KPMG survey, other recent reports on UK IT jobs have claimed that IT pros have actually been harder hit than other professions. According to a study released by skills body e-skills UK late in February, demand for IT staff in the UK dropped by 10 percent in the third quarter of 2008, compared to an overall average fall in demand across all other job sectors of just 5 percent.

The REC/KPMG survey also showed that overall demand for IT professionals was still significantly down on March 2008 when the report recorded an index of 52.4. Also of concern was the fact that demand for contract IT staff was also down and below that of several other professions indicating that temporary staff are being harder hit by the recession that in-house colleagues.

Green conceded that more needs to be done to encourage a recovery and help restore the job market. “We anticipate that we have not yet reached the bottom. With unemployment still set to increase over the coming months, we are calling on the Government to ensure that this month’s Budget is focused on retaining and creating jobs,” he said.

Mike Stevens, partner and head of Business Services at KPMG added that while there may be some “green shoots of recovery” the reality for the job market is still bleak.

“These latest figures leave no doubt that the UK jobs market is at its worst in the 11 year history of the survey and recovery might take longer and be more protracted than many hope,” he said.

According to recent reports, IBM is preparing to eliminate thousands of jobs in the United Kingdom and Germany as part of an effort to move more positions to less expensive markets.