The demand for permanent staff skills in Lotus Applications, CGI, JSP, DB2 and SAP have been falling for two years or more, according to a new jobs report.

According to sector skills council e-skills’ Q4 2009 Quarterly Review of the ICT Labour Market, demand for these five skillsets have been in decline for at least eight quarters.

The study monitored 150 skills in adverts for permanent IT staff, and found that overall, falling demand was noted for 59 skills, while 88 skills saw a quarterly growth in demand. Thirteen skills had an increase in demand over two successive quarters, Fireworks and Foxpro were the only skillsets that had seen a long-term increase in demand, that is, over four quarters.

For contract staff, just 24 skills had an increase in demand, compared with 116 that saw a decline. Although DB2, OLAP, Sybase, C++ and Swing skills had seen an increase for three consecutive quarters, skills in Prince, Exchange, VPN and Windows 2000 have been declining for over eight quarters.

Generally, e-skills found that there was little change in the level of demand for IT staff between Q3 and Q4. It noted that while there was a small rise in demand (around 1,000) for permanent IT staff, the increase was “almost identical in scale” to the decline in contract vacancies in the period.

Nonetheless, e-skills did record significant demand increases in certain occupational groups. It found that permanent vacancies for software communications engineers, IT and IS directors, project leader and senior systems analysts, development team leaders and senior database administrators and analysts all rose by more than 20 percent in the quarter.

Meanwhile, vacancies for contract senior systems developers, technical authors and operators all grew by more than 10 percent. For most of the roles, demand had only increased for a single quarter. However, demand for permanent IT and IS directors and contract senior business analysts and operators had been growing since the beginning of last year.

In terms of pay, although the study found that advertised rates of pay for both permanent and contract IT staff had increased at the end of 2009, by two percent and three percent, respectively, actual, gross average earnings, had fallen. E-skills believed that earnings for full-time IT professionals working in the UK had fallen by around one percent to £38,900 a year.

Unsurprisingly, IT staff working in London and the South East continued to be the highest earners, with salaries 12 percent and 14 percent higher than the UK, respectively. However, this was still a smaller pay gap compared with the wider workforce, where London earnings are 30 percent above the average UK rate.
At the other end of the scale, IT staff in Yorkshire/Humberside were the lowest earners, with average salaries standing at 23 percent less than the UK average.

The report said there were also signs of growing confidence in the jobs market. E-skills found that the number of people looking for new or additional jobs increased “substantially” during Q4 2009. Forty-two percent more IT staff were looking for new jobs, with software professionals (65 percent increase) and IT engineers (75 percent increase) in particular on the lookout. This was a much higher figure than that of the wider workforce, which only saw a four percent increase. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for the IT sector had finally decreased during the final quarter of 2009, from six percent to 5.1 percent, following five consecutive quarterly increases.

The latest jobs report from KPMG and REC also found that IT staff with developer skills continued to be in short supply last month.