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Monday, 09 March 2009 18:42

ICT salaries under pressure in downturn, but Sydney, Adelaide fare best

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If you’re lucky enough to be offered a job in the Australian ICT sector at the moment the salary you might be offered is more than likely to be somewhat less than you would have got before the economic downturn hit us, that is unless the job’s in Adelaide or Sydney.

Peoplebank, in its just released Quarterly IT&T Salary Index, says that while salaries for many of the 50-plus job titles tracked had fallen, there were significant fluctuations in salaries for similar roles in different cities, suggesting that demand remained a factor in current pay scales.

Salaries are patchy and according to Peoplebank, there’s no single trend. For instance, in Adelaide actual salary increases are being given and Sydney remains the highest paying city in most cases.

Peoplebank says the survey found that Sydney, which remains the most buoyant market, typically has the highest-paid roles.

For instance, enterprises are paying around $350,000 for a senior CIO/IT director, whereas similar roles in Perth and Brisbane attract a $200,000 base salary.

“Other than the Sydney premium – likely to be underpinned by strong demand for contract workers in the Government and financial services sectors – there is no national trend in pay scales,” says Peoplebank COO, Peter Acheson.
 
The salary index is based on salaries offered to permanent and contractor ICT workers over the December 08 – Feb 09 period in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth, and for each city records a range of salaries (junior, intermediate and senior) paid to permanent employees and many contract ICT workers in more than 50 job areas.

Acheson says that the downward pressure on salaries and contractor rates has been mounting over the past three months as the effects of the global financial crisis take hold.
 
“In the current market, there is sustained downward pressure on salaries, resulting from a reduced number of roles available and a concurrent rise in the number of candidates available. In fact, where a year ago we would have had one or two appropriately-skilled candidates for a contract role, today we would have four.”

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However, according to Acheson, despite the short-term outlook, there are a number of major projects on the horizon that Peoplebank anticipates will boost demand for contractors later in 2009.

“Additionally, several of our enterprise clients – especially in Perth – are seeing the wealth of talent currently available as an opportunity to hire the skills that will equip them to explore new areas of competitive advantage.

“These are nascent trends, but they do point to the beginnings of a recovery in our sector in the medium to longer term,” Acheson adds.

In Sydney, Acheson says the market has been buoyed by relatively strong continued demand for contractors, especially for Java/J2EE developers, technical solution architects, project managers and business analysts, with demand continuing to be underpinned by a number of major projects in the NSW Government and telecommunications sectors.

Whereas, in Melbourne, Acheson observes that with a number of strong ICT candidates on the market at the moment, Victoria has slated what he calls its “pent-up demand for ICT skills, and is rapidly becoming a buyers’ market for enterprises.”

In Perth, in stark contrast to recent years, where employers have paid a premium for skills so that projects could proceed, there is now a surplus of skilled ICT workers, which is placing downward pressure on both salaries and contractor rates.

According to Peoplebank, it estimates that the salaries currently being offered for ICT roles in Perth are about 5 percent lower than those of 12 months ago.

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