Contract recruitment is taking the slack as permanent IT hiring wanes

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Permanent technology recruitment in investment banking is not in a great state. Many banks have slowed their hiring plans, others have put them on ice and increasingly technologists are being targeted in redundancy announcements.

But big technology projects still need to continue and existing resources are starting to wear thin. Step forward a new-found appetite to recruit IT contractors.

This isn't a new phenomenon, of course; the flexibility of utilising a contract resource has always been something banks fall back on during a flat job market. However, the last two months in particular have seen a surge in demand for IT contractors.

"In May and June we had roles from our investment banking clients than we'd seen in the months from November to April combined," says Martin Rennison, head of the contract desk at IT recruiters the JM Group. "We're at the stage now where most contractors are receiving multiple offers and day rates are on the rise."

Similarly, Astbury Marsden tells us that May and June saw something in a spike of IT contact roles, with around 50-60 live roles in these two months.

"Risk IT, in particular, is a hot area and we're still seeing a lot of work around change management, information security and front office trading systems, especially commodities," says Ben Cowan, director at the firm.

Banks said to be particularly keen hirers of contractors include BarCap and RBS, suggest recruiters. Generally, though, even those banks with hiring freezes, hiring 'holidays', or a policy of trying to shift people internally rather than recruit externally, are still open to the idea of taking on contractors.

Perhaps the question is whether this growth is sustainable. The latest figures from pre-employment screening company Powerchex suggest that while contractor hiring continues to increase, the pace slowed in June compared to previous months this year.

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