Friday, 09 May 2014 18:04

Demand for IT execs up, but ‘volatility’ returns to the market Featured

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The volatility which characterised senior executive employment in the IT sector last year has started to return, according to the last executive demand report. The emerging signs of volatility come just as employment prospects across all business and industry sectors for Australia’s executives are looking somewhat brighter.

According to the latest EL Consult Executive Demand Index, while job opportunities for senior IT executives did rise by 16% in April compared to the prior months, the volatility which was visible in 2013 has now started to return.

Gains in IT in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were the major factors behind the positive results for April, but losses in South Australia, Western Australia and a flat result in Tasmania were negatives on the overall result for the sector.

Overall, national demand in April for top level executives across all business sectors jumped by 19%, prompting the executive search firm to suggest this presents potential job opportunities for public sector employees who might get the chop if predicted Federal Government cutbacks occur.

According to Grant Montgomery, Managing Director of EL Consult, the rise in the demand index “couldn’t have occurred at a better time given the Federal government’s audit committee findings on the need to make the public sector more efficient and the resulting job losses.”

While Montgomery says the private sector is showing signs of life “which is an important indicator of potential economic growth and business confidence”, he questions how well a strong private sector can balance job losses in the public sector.

“There is currently a freeze on government sector employment which is showing up in the EL Index’s numbers but at the same time there has been a rise in employment by the private sector which has more than compensated by delivering one of the best overall improvements in executive job opportunities so far this year.

“While job mobility between the public and private sector is limited to the service sector roles and mainly in the finance and information technology areas, this seems to be where most of the improvement has occurred.

“This means that much of the predicted government cutbacks could be taken up with new private sector opportunities.

“But what is also good is that any improvement in executive hiring by the private sector has a direct correlation to business confidence and hence economic growth.

“Private sector confidence is also very predictive of growth in skilled and semi-skilled employment as it is the private sector that employs by far the lion’s share of these people.”

On a state-by-state basis, EL reports that in April, executive job opportunities in NSW continue to improve and that the state now accounts for almost half of the entire count of executive jobs in Australia.

“So while NSW, and particularly Sydney, remains the most expensive place in Australia to live it is also the state that executives are most likely to get a position to pay for it all," Montgomery says.

The engineering was the poorest performer overall in April, but according to Montgomery this is likely to improve as predicted infrastructure projects move from announcement through feasibility and onto construction.

“Other analysis of this month’s numbers show that it is the government sectors of the smaller states that are particularly vulnerable to efficiency drives by the public sector and this is not just with tax distribution. Any focus on efficiency tends to cut back on duplication of government services and this usually results in centralisation of these services in the larger states,” Montgomery concludes.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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