IT staff hire Hollywood-style agents to keep up with demand

Nov 17 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

They may have a reputation for being geeks, but IT wizards in the UK are now being paid at levels not seen since the dotcom boom, according to a new survey – and some have even taken to hiring their own Hollywood-style agents to keep up with the demand.

Pay rates for IT workers are skyrocketing at five times the national average, according to the study by recruiter SkillsMarket and the Association of Technology Staffing Companies.

As a result half (49 per cent) of all IT workers are now either seriously looking for a new job, or open to opportunities, against a quarter at the sane time last year

And some "superstar" IT workers are now so in demand they are hiring their own Hollywood-style agents.

According to Ann Swain, Chief Executive of ATSCo, with demand for elite talent becoming increasingly competitive, the emergence of talent agents is a logical development.

The phenomenon that first originated in the US during the dot com boom but failed to spread to the UK after demand for IT professionals declined in 2001.

"At the elite end of the market, in niche areas like games development or systems security, there is a real shortage of top talent," she said.

"These IT professionals can almost pick and choose where and who they want to work with. Talent agents are being used to gain access to the best roles."

"It's something we are seeing more of at the interim management level where IT professionals see themselves as fire fighters moving from role to role," she added.

Many traditional IT recruitment companies are now seriously looking at the talent management model and the possibility of providing a gold-plated, bespoke service for the highest-earning IT professionals.

The talent agent would essentially act as the marketing and sales representative on behalf of the IT professionals he/she works for.

"IT professionals are the first to admit that sales and marketing is not something they enjoy or excel at," Ann Swain explained. "Most would rather focus on IT and outsource their marketing to professionals."

Companies were also reporting increased demand for roles such as project managers and infrastructure architects, which ATSCo said was evidence that organisations were kick-starting new IT projects

At £37 per hour, the median rate reported by contract IT staff was up on the previous quarter (6 per cent) and, for permanent salaries, was at its highest level for four years.

"After remaining stagnant for the last 18 months, contractors have finally seen an increase in their pay rates," said Swain.

"We have particularly seen an increase in demand for roles such as project managers, team leaders, test managers, infrastructure architects and service delivery managers."