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IT developers in high demand

Grounds for cautious optimism, but still too early to signal a jobs recovery

IT developer skills is one of the key permanent staff skills that were reported as being in short supply last month, according to the latest Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG.

General IT skills and those in CAD and CAM were also cited as areas of skills shortage in permanent jobs, while general IT and business analyst skills were in short supply among contractors.

Overall, the report for March 2012 showed that the IT and computing sector led an upturn in permanent job vacancy growth to an eight-month high.

Ronnie McCombe, partner at KPMG, said: "It's encouraging to see permanent placements in positive territory for the third month in a row in 2012, albeit slightly down on last month's high. This provides further hope that the employment market will win through to a stronger recovery as the year progresses.

"Sectors such as IT and computing and engineering and construction continue to perform well."

But he added: "It is certainly still too early to call a jobs recovery."

The report uses a figure to represent demand in each job sector, and a figure above 50 indicates an increase in demand on the previous month.

For permanent IT jobs, which ranked first, the figure for March 2012 was 59.5. Although it held the same ranking as the same time last year, the growth was stronger in March 2011, with a figure of 65.9.

In terms of IT contractor jobs, which ranked third behind nursing and engineering, the demand had also fallen since last year, from 63.8 to 52.5 in March 2012.

McCombe said that the jobs recovery was tentative partly because instead of new jobs being created, some of the rise in permanent jobs appears to come from employers simply switching temporary workers to permanent status due to the higher entitlements owed to them through the new Agency Worker Regulations (AWR).

Since 1 October 2011, the AWR has given contractors the entitlement to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly by a company.

Tom Hadley, director of policy and professional services for the REC, called on the government to do more to boost the supply of IT workers.

"Expertise in IT and engineering, as well as workers in catering and driving, continue to be sought after. The government needs to do more to address the supply side of the equation, ensuring school leavers, graduates and other jobseekers get sound advice on the skills and qualifications they need to secure the jobs they want."

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