Development and systems staff are the most in demand IT personnel in the jobs market, according to a new survey by the National Computing Centre.

The 'Benchmark of salaries and employment trends in IT' survey of 202 UK organisations also predicted steady salary increases across sectors.

Demand for systems development staff is set to grow 13 per cent over the next two years, in spite of the tough economic climate, said the survey. Systems and support staff jobs are expected to grow 10 per cent.

In a positive forecast for the job market, nearly half of respondents indicated they expect the total number of IT staff in their company to increase in the next two years.

The IT services sector was the industry sector that looked best positioned, with four in five respondents from the sector expecting staff numbers to increase.

Some 63 per cent of government respondents expected IT jobs in the public sector to increase, and 55 per cent of finance professionals expected growth in their sector’s IT posts.

But not all sectors were well positioned. Only a quarter of transport respondents and a third of manufacturing interviewees believed their sectors would experience IT jobs growth.

There were also some worries over a shortage of available IT staff, with eight per cent of respondents expressing concern, the highest level in the survey since 2001. Skills particularly in shortage included Oracle, SAP, NET, web development, business analysis and network support, as well as VMware virtualisation, .NET C# security issues and ITIL.

This shortage may have increased confidence that salaries would rise. The average salary increase expected by IT professionals was 3.4 per cent, with the greatest increases in transport, communications, utilities, services, manufacturing and finance. The government, retail and wholesale sectors all expected steady but below-average salary increases.

“The current economic gloom will create new winners and losers, but 2009 will also be a year of transition,” said Christine Jack, research manager at the National Computing Centre. “Outsourced software and desktop services are maturing and will become a more financially-attractive alternative for cash-strapped companies.”

She added: “To secure their futures, IT professionals need to be prepared for the structural changes ahead, whilst for employers recruitment problems will not be alleviated by a worsening economy but by training more people with the right skills.”

The survey contrasts with other recent reports that have had a more negative outlook on the IT jobs market. Last week, recruiters recruiters Hays and Michael Page said demand for full time employees had fallen in the last quarter. The 'Report on Jobs' by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG said demand for IT staff had fallen, but the fall was less severe than in many other sectors.

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