IT Jobs Market Shows Better Prospects For Staff

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Despite a rosier picture for IT job seekers, the latest figures from e-Skills shows a skills gap is approaching

The latest ICT jobs market report from e-Skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for Business and IT, brings good news for IT professionals but will not be a cause of celebration for recruitment bureaux and employers. Despite worries about future skills shortages, the short term view for staff is still acceptably healthy.

The continuing rise in the number of advertised posts in the third quarter of 2010 was, not surprisingly, accompanied by a fall in those actively seeking work. The split of 112,000 “ready candidates” for 94,000 posts implies a much more competitive market for the employers and advertised rates rose slightly in consequence.

Crisis Point Looming As Posts Increase

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Although the country has not reached crisis point, the continuing rise in vacancies shows that there is a storm brewing. It is something that is causing consternation and the report coincided with a Westminster Forum Projects seminar addressing the UK IT Skills Shortage and an initiative from the Open University to highlight how its courses can help create more CIOs.

Despite the concerns these moves imply, e-Skill’s Labour Market Bulletin said, “The incidence of ICT recruiters experiencing skills shortages (difficulties filling ICT positions due to a lack of applicants with the required skills, qualifications or experience) was at the lowest level since the data series was initiated in 2004.”

This level of 12 percent of employers being unable to fill posts in a reasonable time span covers particular skills. Many of these are for senior or more experienced staff. Aside from a general difficulty finding systems auditors and developers or business analysts, other posts that have proved problematic are project managers, senior test analysts and development team leaders.

Skills in Sybase data management systems, now an SAP subsidiary, have long been thin on the ground and current searches for MVS, Coldfusion, Pegasus, Assembler, Axapta and DSP specialists are also taking over seven weeks to fill.

Overall, the unemployment rate for ICT staff is less than half of the 8.3 percent for the total workforce and currently stands at 3.4 percent.

Despite the relatively good prospects within the UK, the nation’s trade deficit for ICT goods and services increased by four percent during the second quarter of 2010. A positive improvement of 41 percent in the services trade to £1 billion was more than counterbalanced by a worsening of the trade position for ICT goods which fell 15 percent or by £2.7 billion.

The report concludes on a slightly more positive note: “By comparison, however, the sector performed relatively well, as the overall UK trade deficit grew by around 26 percent during the second quarter – in this case owing to a worsening trade position for both goods and services.”

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