The number of advertised vacancies for ICT staff in the first quarter of this year rose for the third consecutive quarter to 86,000 positions, despite a slump in recruitment activity across the economy as a whole, according to the latest analysis by e-skills UK.
Above-average levels of business confidence, falls in company liquidations, a fall in the sector trade deficit and an increase in IT spending all contributed to a tightening in the ICT labour market in the first three months of this year, the technology skills body said.
Eskills UK concluded that an increase in demand for labour and skills, combined with a reduction in the number of "ready candidates" for ICT positions, resulted in a small fall in the ratio of candidates per job from 1.5:1 in Q4 09 to 1.4:1 at the start of the year.
The report found that demand for certain roles - including business analysts, development team leaders, projects managers, systems developers and software/programming managers had increased over the past three consecutive quarters.
At the same time, demand for specific skills, notably Sybase, C#, Coldfusion, .NET, SQL and Swing also increased over at least three consecutive quarters.
Although there have been no reports of these occupations and skills being in shortage to date, given the improvement in the market, e-skills predicts it may be only a matter of time before levels of demand outstrip the number of "ready candidates" for jobs.
The report also showed that employers are investing in training to plug their skills gaps with about one quarter of all ICT professionals (about 263,000 people) receiving education or training during the previous 13 weeks.
The number of ICT professionals working in the UK was up on the previous quarter to 1,065,000 people, and the tally of unemployed ICT professionals fell to 48,000, marking an associated unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent - well below the UK average of 8.3 per cent
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