Any upturn in the IT recruitment market is unlikely until the latter part of next year, according to recent research.
The latest quarterly review of the IT labour market from UK skills body e-skills UK indicates that IT recruitment activity is likely to remain sluggish until the second half of 2003.
The study also highlights a slowdown in the contract market, where average salaries have slumped a further four per cent since the last quarter.
But it's not all doom and gloom, and pockets of demand for specific technical skills still exist.
In particular the report singles out Freehand, Smalltalk, OLAP and JDBC together with an upturn in demand for web design skills.
Terry Watts, chief operating officer at e-skills UK, told vnunet.com: "Predictions are slipping a bit. Because the industry has been so buoyant for the past five years, we got a bit carried away with expectations for growth."
Despite a downturn in the industry, unemployment levels for IT professionals are still below other sectors, with employers still struggling to fill some technology roles.
"As a job seeker you need to think about technology skills but also broader commercial skills. Many people have them but they don't recognise the value to employers. You need to market yourself," said Watts.
"The focus is more on business skills now. It's a sign of the industry growing up."
The report also seems to show a slight upturn in the training market, with user support technicians in particular getting more than their fair share of the training budget allocation.
"It's good news for those in employment," explained Watts. "People can't afford to recruit so they are preferring to train up existing staff.
"My advice would be to work with your employer to maximise the contribution you can make and they will gain too."
A preference for staff development over buying skills could also be fuelled by pessimism about future skills shortages.
Some 12 per cent of employers are anticipating difficulties recruiting managerial level IT staff over the next six months, compared with nine per cent in the previous quarter.
Of the 162,000 IT professionals currently out of work in the UK, around half are over 45, and 79 per cent are men.
The study also found that unemployed technologists tend to be less well qualified than those in employment.
Just over half of employed IT professionals have an HE/degree level qualification, compared to 39 per cent of those out of work.
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