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Thursday, 05 March 2009 04:53

NBN would provide hundreds of needed jobs says recruitment boss

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The boss of one of Australia's largest ICT recruiters says the much delayed National Broadband Network could provide hundreds of desperately needed ICT jobs. ICT project managers are being let go by the hundreds across Australia and recruiters are looking to the Telecoms sector to keep the market afloat with projects like the NBN.

According to David Stewart, CEO of Candle ICT, research from the Candle's parent the Clarius Group shows that the ICT job market is generally shrinking but there are pockets where it is still strong.

"There are basically only a couple of sectors where the demand for jobs is still coming through and those are the Telco and Government infrastructure services," Mr Stewart told iTWire.

"There is no doubt that the NBN would provide a huge boost for jobs. I would think it would be in the hundreds," Mr Stewart said.

The increasingly precarious state of the ICT jobs market is putting increased pressure on the Federal Government to bring projects like the much delayed NBN online sooner rather than later.

However, the Government's emphasis on providing jobs through spending on infrastructure appears to be at odds with its razor gang approach in Canberra, where its adoption of the Gershon Review recommendations is decimating the ICT contracting market.

Canberra, a place where it has traditionally been hard to attract permanent ICT workers, has in the past been a stronghold of the ICT contracting space. The Gershon Review, which recommended that the Government reduce contracting roles and replace them with permanent jobs, appears to have put an end to that.

At the time the Gershon Review recommendations were adopted a number of the largest recruiters privately expressed skepticism and misgivings about the Government's contractor slashing approach.

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"In Canberra and Queensland we are seeing a reduced demand for contractors while in other states we are seeing the demand for contract IT staff remain strong," said Mr Stewart.

“The demand for contractors is principally being driven by major blue chip companies, and tends to relate to major infrastructure projects or to large merger related work,” Mr. Stewart added.

“New roles are primarily Infrastructure related (reflecting business as usual maintenance and turnover of Helpdesk and System Admin people),” he said.

“These are closely followed by CRM/Business intelligence or Data warehouse types of roles. This may reflect businesses are rationalising spend, analysing clients and customers to maximise efficiencies and customer information types of projects are taking priority due to the global economic uncertainty.

“We’re also seeing the use of Business Intelligence tools and extracting historic information/viewing dashboards of data out of their data warehouses using skills/products such as Oracle, Cognos, Informatica.

“Also Warehouse Builder & SQL experts, represents demand for contractor skills at similar percentages to our traditional ‘business as usual’ Infrastructure demand.”


Skills in demand SAP, Oracle, Cisco and so on indicate a need for skills on ongoing projects but less demand for project managers as new projects are not being commenced.

Demand for ICT professionals may have peaked but skills shortages continue to persist as employees shy away from risking job changes, according to Clarius research based on labour force data supplied by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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{mospagebreak)According to Clarius research shows that Australia still needs 8,000 more skilled ICT people to fill jobs in December 2008. However, the gap between supply and demand is shrinking - September the gap was 9000.

Since the previous quarter, there has been a reduction in supply to fill permanent positions but this has been accompanied by an increase in the number of skilled IT personnel seeking new positions, including quality candidates, particularly project and program managers and testers, according to Mr Stewart.

“These tend to be professionals who have been ‘let go’, as those in roles are increasingly reluctant to seek new positions – less likely of taking the risk of jumping to an unknown entity. This reluctance to move is contributing to the continued shortages of good candidates in some areas.

“There has been a tendency for contractors to start looking for the security of permanent positions; however these are now few and far between."

A State breakdown according to Clarius shows:

o    In terms of shortages WA is still finding it hard to source SAP, Cisco, Oracle and Sharepoint people, SA also note a particular shortage of CISCO.

o    While in Canberra and Queensland we are seeing a reduced demand for contractors, in other states we are seeing the demand for contract IT staff remain strong.

o    In terms of supply, ACT is seeing more project managers, program managers and testers looking for work now than there were before.

o    SA report that roles for PM requirement's are dwindling due to delay/cancelling projects, SA also note a particular shortage of Business Analysts and SAP.

o    Qld report report we are starting to see an increase in roles come through in the infrastructure space, infrasture PM's, voice and data as well as Business Analysts with a clinical/health background.

o    In Victoria SAP & CISCO are still in short supply. Vendors & Telco’s are continuing to pursue existing projects, though new projects are increasingly being put on hold.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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