While the worldwide economic downturn means the IT contractor market remains under pressure, both overseas and in South Africa, UK figures show that there are only half the number of out-of-work contractors as there were following the dotcom crash.
This is according to Karen Geldenhuys, MD of IT recruitment company Abacus Recruitment, who says contracting jobs in South Africa were not facing the same pressure as they are currently in the UK – which is facing a worse recession then South Africa.
"Interestingly, despite all the doom and gloom abounding due to the credit crunch being felt globally, the current number of out of work contractors in the UK is only around half of what it was following the dotcom crash.
"While contracting jobs are certainly under pressure locally, we are, at least, facing the prospect of hosting the Soccer World Cup next year – and a substantial amount of IT skills will be needed for this daunting task alone. This does bring some reprieve to our IT market, more markedly to contractors."
According to recent statistics IT contractors' long-term joblessness today is just 7,5%, down from 13% in 2003.
Nowadays, two-thirds of contractors are looking for stability over increased payments, says Geldenhuys.
"Job security is now a bigger concern then it was in 2003."
The latest statistics also show that contractors in the beleaguered financial services sector are showing the most pessimism. Only 15% saw the sector being in a position to offer them their next assignment, down from 24% in 2003.
"These are worrying statistics," said Geldenhuys. "But our financial services sector has not been as hard-hit as the UK, largely due to the more prudent lending practices of South African banks. But we are certainly looking at some attrition in the local financial services sector from an IT perspective. The beauty about South Africa is that we face a very real IT skills shortage; and if there are job losses in one sector, other sectors pick up the slack."