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Sector Watch: What’s hot for IT contractors?

Sector Watch: What’s hot for IT contractors?

IT is arguably the most popular specialised contractor skill in the UK. As new technologies such as AI, blockchain and big data are utilised across all industries, there’s a growing need for skilled technical workers to meet the demand. This means that fast access to specialists who can maintain the technology’s day-to-day functioning and ensure secure digital assets is vital. Here, Contracting Scout takes a look at how the IT sector is shaping up in 2019.

While hiring across the IT sector is continuing at pace, it’s clear that the industry is suffering from a skills shortage, with recruiters struggling to meet demand for roles. IT salary guides show that job growth in the IT sector is five times that of the wider economy with salaries growing in tandem. The LinkedIn Talent Blog showed that a massive 62% of permanent IT staff expected their salary to rise in 2018, and 59% of contractors expected the same. 38% of UK IT workers want to find a new job in 2019 with increased remuneration being the primary objective. This sharp rise in compensation levels means that many organisations can’t afford to retain full-time specialists, making it an excellent time for contractors to seek out new opportunities within the sector, or renegotiate a contract that’s up for renewal.

Recent statistics for the sector show that the five most in-demand IT skills in 2019 are:

  • Cyber Security
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Mobile Application Development
  • Big Data
  • Business Analysts

Big Data

Demand for big data skills rose by 78% in 2017, outstripping demand for mobile (26%) and cloud (30%) expertise. GDPR coupled with the growing Internet of Things trend, are putting pressure on businesses to manage their data. According to the Robert Half salary guide for 2019, data scientist salaries will continue to rise in 2019 from £66,000 to a massive £116,250 for the top 95 percentile.

Software/ gaming

The computer games (15.5%), Internet (14.9%), and computer software industries (13.3%) drove tech turnover the most. User experience designers had extremely high turnover at 23.3% with both data analysts and embedded software engineers at 21.7%.  According to payscale, the average salary for a gaming engineer is around £79,000.


Devops titles are seeing real salary growth in 2019. Industry guides show that in the UK and Ireland, 49% of devops practitioners and managers earn between £39,000-78,000 in 2019 with UK salaries trending upwards.



According to the Spiceworks’ annual State of IT report 2019, IT security/cybersecurity skills were the most sought after at enterprise level. 57% of large companies are looking to bolster their security skills.  In April 2019, the average salary for Cyber Security Specialist jobs rose by £4,643 (6%) to £87,500.

AI and networking

IT roles within AI are some of the most exciting and broad-ranging in terms of sought after skills. The nature of simulated intelligence mean that many applicants are coming from a cognitive science background (a combination of psychology, computer science, anthropology and philosophy). Large enterprises are also more likely to seek AI skills than smaller companies. Average salaries within AI are around £75,000.


Python continues to be in great demand for 2019, as reflected in growing salaries ranging from £64,155 a year for a senior Python engineer, to £75,000 for a team leader, according to statistics on average annual salaries from PayScale. According to Stack Overflow’s Developer Ecosystem report Python was the fourth most in-demand skill, behind Javascript, Java and C#.


A LinkedIn Learning blog post also found that cloud computing skills came out as the most in-demand skill for 2019. AWS proficiency is particularly sought after as organisations continue to look for employees familiar with the popular public cloud platform and its services. This demand is reflected in average salaries of £52,750 for AWS experts, to £65,000 for an AWS solutions architect.

The IT sector moves at a rapid pace. Keeping up to date with industry developments, learning to spot trends and continuing to develop your IT skills will ensure that you remain competitive and win the best contracts. Read our article on some possible sources of funding and tax relief available for your continued professional development.

For impartial information on a range of contracting issues speak to a member of our team on: 0203 603 1878


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