Can IT Salaries Survive the Current Economic Climate?

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Information Technology (IT) has, for around a decade, been considered a growth industry. With salaries and specialist skills in demand, there seems to be no end of higher paying jobs. This belies what came before where companies shed hundreds of jobs and off-shored even more. With this historical evidence of a boom and bust cycle in IT, can current salary levels last?

There are a lot of different jobs that fall under the umbrella of IT jobs when looking at the job market and each job requires a specific set of specialised skills. For example, the skills required to work on an Oracle database system are quite different from the skills required to work on a Java program. Both are classified as IT jobs but they both requite completely different skill sets.

Whether it is an Oracle database professional or a C# programmer, different skills are required at different times by different people. Often in-house HR departments are best placed to understand what is needed by their in-house teams but with HR being increasingly stretched, is it feasible to expect them to do everything? Oracle skills are significantly different to those required for someone to program in C# and while in-house HR departments can liaise with their in-house teams, their knowledge and skills can often lead to the wrong candidates being put forward.

Demand for IT contractors in the second quarter of 2012 based on the number of companies who chose to advertise a job publically, saw a 3% increase, according to quarterly data from an IT recruitment site. By examining the number and assessing this based on current trends and previous years trends going in to the summer months, this demonstrated a clear shift toward temporary workers in the last quarter, the need for permanent staff declined for the first time since the second quarter of 2009 falling 1%. This may not be a trend as it reflects merely one quarter and overall IT is a strong sector with specialist IT Recruitment still strong.

Getting an information technology job can be difficult and does not magically happen with IT Recruitment experts simply placing you in a job. First and foremost, any person who is job-seeking needs to have experience. Having a profile website where prospective employers can see examples of previous work does help, though most jobs do also require that a test is taken to either correct or write code on the spot then explain what the correction or code decisions made. A portfolio site will get an applicant past the initial hurdle of trying to get an interview where the exam happens. It is essential to get to an interview in order to be able to prove skills.

The contract market has seen an increase in roles almost across the board within Q2 and going in to Q3 according to early indications, with only the retail sector seeing slight stagnation. Media sector recruitment of contractors had seen the greatest increase at 4.6%, software house recruitment was up by 3.1%, finance by 2.5%, manufacturing by 3.4% and public sector by 2.3%. The contract skills which were at the time in greatest demand were .Net, with vacancies up by 3.3%, followed by C# up by 3.1%. Elsewhere contractors with Agile, Java and SQL server had seen an increase of 3.2%, 3.1% and 3.1% respectively across the Q2 period in the run up to the Olympics.

All is not perfect outside the contractor space with the need for permanent staff declining for the first time since the second quarter of 2009 falling 1%. The slight dip in permanent positions needs to be seen in context, as a blip. At the moment there is nothing in the numbers to suggest this is either a growing trend or a longer term one. Given that it has been 4 years of constant growth a slight contraction is not abnormal and increases in usage of one specialist CV database reinforces this as only an anomoly.

Can IT salaries survive the current economic climate? Undoubtedly they will, but they will constantly evolve and change and programmers and those living and working in these industries will need to get used to change.

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