The IT recruitment market is showing the first signs of an upturn following two years of declining rates of pay.
Temporary contract rates have risen by as much as 14 per cent in the past three months, and permanent salaries have increased 10 per cent in the same period, according to the latest figures from skills analyst The Skills Market.
C++, Java, MS SQL Server, MS Visual Basic and Unix are the five skills which have seen the biggest increases in market value in the past quarter.
But Ann Swain, chief executive of the Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCO), warned that, despite the positive signs, sentiment across the sector is still fragile.
"These results, along with the recent recovery in share values of recruitment companies, may indicate the first tentative signs of a recovery in confidence following the recent economic downturn," she said.
"Job cuts over the past two years had pared IT departments down to the bone so any pick up in, say, investment banking or 3G mobile activity is going to feed through very quickly."
Almost £10,000 a year was wiped off average permanent IT salaries and £10 an hour in contract roles in the first nine months of 2002, according to The Skills Market figures, although earnings have since bounced back slightly.
Paul Smith, marketing director at recruitment company Harvey Nash, played down the research findings.
"If I said we weren't under pressure for rates I'd be lying. This is ATSCO talking up the market," he said.
"Watch the results of the main recruitment companies in the contract market. I don't think they'll reflect that sentiment."
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