A huge rise in the number of IT organisations planning to recruit offers the strongest sign yet that the sector is on the verge of an upturn.
The latest quarterly Reed Recruitment Index, based on a survey of almost 1,500 UK organisations, found that more than two thirds (68 per cent) of firms in the IT and telecoms sector expect to grow staff numbers in the third quarter, up from just 41 per cent in the second quarter.
A further 26 per cent will recruit to maintain current employment levels.
The expected rise in IT recruitment is the largest of any sector, followed closely by construction, where 64 per cent of businesses said they plan to take on additional staff.
Across all sectors, 40 per cent of organisations said they expect to recruit for growth in third quarter, a rise of eight per cent on the previous quarter.
Steve Hallett, regional manager of the technology division at Reed Recruitment, said the results were highly encouraging. But he warned that organisations must be wary not to fall foul of future skills shortages.
"We're beginning to see signs of candidate shortages in certain areas - especially development and testing - because demand has been so high over the last couple of quarters. The pool isn't dry yet but all of the signs are there to say that's the way it's going," said Hallett.
"I think businesses need to decide quickly whether they're going to take up projects that they may have shelved over the past few years before we start experiencing shortages across the board. If you leave it too late you're going to be paying a lot more for the same people who are out there now."
The survey also found the public sector forecasting the slowest rate of growth, with only 27 per cent of organisations planning to increase recruitment in the third quarter.
"This could be down largely to the growth of outsourcing in the sector," commented Hallett.
But other factors may also be contributing to sluggish public sector growth. Many e-government projects are drawing to a close as next year's deadline approaches. And the chancellor this week announced that he is to axe 84,000 civil service jobs.
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