The value of IT skills is continuing its downward trend, with some of the market's highest-earning roles dropping by as much as 38 per cent since April this year - and the worse may not be over.
Project management in particular has suffered at the hands of the economic downturn. Although it continues to rank as one of the highest-paid skills in the IT market, it has also experienced some of the biggest falls in value, according to the latest figures from analyst TheSkillsMarket.
Since April, contractors have seen the value of their project management skills drop by an average 31 per cent, including a 29-per-cent slump for MS Project 2000 skills, nine per cent for Project Manager Workbench and five per cent for Case Tools.
The decrease is also reflected in permanent roles, with the value of MS Project 2000 skills falling by 38 per cent and Project Manager Workbench by 23 per cent.
Alex Charles, director at TheSkillsMarket, said the slump reflected companies' ongoing resistance to new projects.
"The flip side is that they will be the first skills to pick up in demand as the market improves," he said.
But Charles warned: "Even when the market does recover there will be a delayed reaction in rate increase as excess skills are soaked up. Current evidence suggests we may not have hit the bottom yet."
Michael Bennett, director of IT recruitment agency Best International, said the recruitment market had grown 25 per cent from the first three months of the year to April to June this year, but within a depressed market where activity levels were much lower than two years ago.
"Most organisations have held technology spend and not released projects. I do not anticipate significant growth for these skills until 2003 except in the public sector," Bennett said.
Meanwhile, there has been more woe for the contractor community after research revealed that ongoing uncertainty is forcing many to sacrifice holidays. One in five of the 2,000 IT contractors surveyed by accountancy firm Giant take fewer than 10 days holiday a year, with a further 46 per cent taking only between 10 and 20 days off.
But despite the combination of short holidays and long hours - a third work between 40 and 50 hours a week - over half of contractors say they are satisfied with their work-life balance.
Giant's managing director Matthew Brown said: "A third of contractors want to retire before they are 50, which might explain the motivation behind such a strong work ethic."
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