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Uncertainty about the economy has led to continued pressure on permanent ICT roles. Contract positions now account for almost three out of four ICT positions on offer – but the length of those contracts is tipped to drop in the lead up to Christmas.

According to the IT Contracting and Recruitment Association (ITCRA), which released its SkillsMatch data today, not only are contract roles on the rise as a proportion of the overall roles on offer – the number of people available to fill those roles is also apparently increasing with the average time taken to fill a role dropping to an average of just 16 days.

In Victoria, such is the availability of IT professionals that it takes less than 11 days to fill a role on average.

Greatest demand is being experienced for people with SAP; business analysis; SQL; and testing and development skills.

According to Julie Mills, ITCRA’s chief executive officer, the report reflects the economic uncertainty being experienced in Australia and internationally. “At this part of the year we would expect the trend to continue as people wind down for Christmas, and don’t want to have to pay people, quite frankly,” she said.

Ms Mills said that ITCRA’s findings dovetailed with the salary report released earlier this week by leading IT recruiter Peoplebank which indicated that weaker demand for IT skills is expected to persist past Christmas while salaries will stagnate for the foreseeable future. Contractors however can expect slightly better pay than permanent candidates according to ITCRA’s survey.

Although the lengths of contracts currently on offer has increased slightly compared to the last time ITCRA polled its members Ms Mills said she expected contract lengths would drop back toward three months.

For the recruitment industry itself, the rise of the contractor had led to a rise in the number of contract management companies setting themselves up to provide support and management services for contractors according to Ms Mills. She said five such companies had joined ITCRA’s supporter ranks in the last two months.

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Beverley Head

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Beverley Head is a Sydney-based freelance writer who specialises in exploring how and why technology changes everything - society, business, government, education, health. Beverley started writing about the business of technology in London in 1983 before moving to Australia in 1986. She was the technology editor of the Financial Review for almost a decade, and then became the newspaper's features editor before embarking on a freelance career, during which time she has written on a broad array of technology related topics for the Sydney Morning Herald, Age, Boss, BRW, Banking Day, Campus Review, Education Review, Insite and Government Technology Review. Beverley holds a degree in Metallurgy and the Science of Materials from Oxford University and a deep affection for things which are shaken not stirred.

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