Recruitment in the UKís beleaguered IT sector may have turned the corner if the modest rise in the number of permanent positions advertised in the last quarter of 2003 continues to be sustained.
According to CWJobs' Quarterly IT Skills Index, permanent vacancies increased by four per cent between October and December 2003 while contract positions grew by one per cent.
While the figures appear underwhelming, the growth in the number of jobs should be set against a seasonal trend that usually sees the Christmas period being the slowest of the year for IT recruitment.
Over the UK as a whole, the number of permanent IT jobs advertised between October and December 2003 was 48,975, almost all of which (97 per cent) were advertised online. The increase represents the first growth in permanent positions since the beginning of 2003.
But the rate of growth in the number of contract vacancies slowed to just one per cent in the final quarter of 2003, with a total of 14,847 jobs advertised.
Nevertheless, according to CWJobs, the modest rise suggests that employers are now confident enough to take on staff for the new year.
The figures also reveal major regional and sector variations. In fact the only area enjoying sustained growth in both permanent and contract positions was outer London.
Permanent vacancies grew everywhere except the West & Wales and Scotland & Northern Ireland, with the sharpest rises in Outer London (14 per cent), West Midlands (10 per cent) and Inner London (nine per cent).
But the overall outlook for contractors looks uncertain. The number of contract positions declined everywhere except London and West & Wales. In the East Midlands, the number of contract vacancies fell by 21 per cent.
The research also found that the numbers of contract and permanent vacancies in manufacturing industry and the public sector had plummeted while demand in the finance sector had picked up. Demand in the software, media and consultancy sectors had also risen, CWJobs found.