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JobStats - September 2002 - some good news: 08 Sep 2002

08 Sep 2002

Market trends

Things are still getting worse but not quite as quickly as before. As I said in last month's newsletter the summer is generally a bad time for finding jobs but with September here and the schools back we shouldn't see the summer-holiday effect any more. If September and October show a levelling out we can safely say that the recession has bottomed out but at the moment it's too early to say.

Skills growing fast

Among the fastest growing skills over the past few months have been the Microsoft offerings .Net and C#, Active Directory is also growing fast. Oracle 9i and 11i have both grown rapidly ever since they first started appearing in job adverts. These are currently rare skills that are showing a steady growth in demand; the rates are already reflecting this.

Good news on fast-track visas

The government has decided to remove all IT skills from the Skills Shortage List. This means that British IT staff will not be competing with workers from overseas for jobs in Britain. Obviously this is good news for British employees though it's less good for the employers. By reducing the supply of skilled staff the government has made it easier for IT staff to find work, this should also apply some upward pressure on rates. Don't expect to see a return to the glory days of 2000 but the government's decision should help to improve the IT jobs market in the coming months.

That said, it shouldn't have taken the gevernment nearly a year and a half to respond to the change in market conditions. If the government wants to intervene in the market it should be much more quick-footed and nimble. Someone should be asking the question how does the decision to add a skill to the Skills Shortage List get made. If the government is relying on input from employers to make the decision they will always be too slow to remove skills from the list and too swift to add them because that's what's good for them. There are other stakeholders who the government should be considering as well though and they don't have a voice when the decisions are taken. This is where a body like the PCG can speak up for the employees interests.

Why do so many adverts ask for a degree nowadays

Up to the end of 2000 the proportion of adverts mentioning that the candidate should have a degree was static (falling if anything) at around 4.5 percent. Since then it has become steadily more and more popular and now over 10 percent of adverts asks for candidates with a degree. This is largely because requiring a degree makes a convenient filter with which to exclude some of the (always too many) applicants that there will be for a job. The current desire for graduates reflects the current state of the market and not a sudden increase in the academic requirements of most jobs. When we start to see the demand for candidates with degrees start to fall this will be a good sign that things are improving again.

Suits you

Another interesting trend is the move back to wearing suits in the office. According to the latest Aziz Management Communications Index there has been an decrease in the number of companies allowing their staff to dress casually all the time. It now stands at 24% from 37% last year. The removal of non-monetary rewards is just a further sign of the current state of the market.


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