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Skills shortages loom as demand for IT professionals surges

Skills shortages loom as demand for IT professionals surges

Placements of IT candidates up 52%

90,416 new IT jobs advertised this month

The number of job vacancies in the IT sector has surged 28% year-on-year as businesses ramp up investment in technology and kick-start projects put on hold during the recession, according to research conducted by Staffing Industry Analysts and Innovantage on behalf of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

Research compiled by Innovantage, the UK’s leading provider of real-time labour market intelligence, and Staffing Industry Analysts, the global advisor on contingent work, shows that 90,416 new IT jobs were advertised on job boards in May 2011, compared to 70,912 in May 2010. The figures are from the new APSCo Monthly Trends report, which analyses job vacancies and placements across the UK professional staffing sector.

APSCo says that the surge in demand for IT skills is a result of businesses ramping-up investment in technology to boost productivity and gain competitive advantage.

APSCo says that some sectors of the economy – such as financial services, retail and the media – are seeing particularly strong demand for IT skills.

According to APSCo, banks and other financial institutions are investing heavily in IT, particularly regulatory and compliance systems. For example, insurers are currently scrambling for IT candidates as they rush to meet the 31 December 2012 deadline for the new Solvency II regulatory requirement.

Another major IT priority for financial services companies at the moment is low-latency trading. Enabling IT platforms to execute trades faster can significantly boost profitability.

APSCo says that retailers – who are investing heavily in home delivery e-commerce platforms – and media companies – who are enhancing their online offerings – are also creating significant demand for IT skills.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, comments: “It makes sense that businesses are investing in technology having reined in spending during the recession. IT is seen as key to boosting competitive advantage, so IT Directors are increasingly keen to push the button on projects, which will deliver significant productivity gains. Candidates with cloud computing experience, for example, are in high demand.”

“We are seeing a significant increase in demand for IT professionals, with skills shortages in some areas now becoming widespread. Candidates with niche, in-demand skills are receiving multiple job offers and double digit pay increases for switching roles are now commonplace.”

She adds: “The financial services sector is one of the key spenders on IT. Much of the pressure to invest in IT systems is regulatory, which is driving demand for IT professionals with experience in compliance and risk functions.”

The number of new IT vacancies in the South East jumped by 34% year-on-year in May, from 14,519 to 19,425. 

John Nurthen of Staffing Industry Analysts comments: “In some sectors we are now returning to a candidate-led market with employers struggling to find the skills they need. Some IT roles are now taking six months or more to fill.”

“Retailers are adding functionality to e-commerce platforms - such as enabling customers to shop online via mobile devices or through third party marketplaces - which is creating a surge in demand for IT skills. Candidates with e-commerce experience are commanding a substantial premium for their skills.”

“We are also seeing an increase in demand for IT skills from media companies. This is being driven by consumers increasingly accessing content via the Web. Media companies, from newspaper to music publishers, are responding by adding new Web functionality, which is fuelling demand for IT skills.”

Job vacancies across the economy up 13%

Job vacancies across the whole economy jumped 13% year-on-year in May, from 430,455 to 484,396.

Other than IT, the best performing sector was engineering/manufacturing, where job vacancies surged by 38% in May, from 26,270 to 36,205.

The number of banking and insurance jobs rose by 13% in May, from 18,968 to 21,460.

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