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ICT skills shortage. What shortage?

Offshoring has decimated the local ICT jobs market. Australia now has a large and increasing oversupply of ICT professionals, not a skills shortage as widely touted over recent years, according to a new report.

Contrary to what we have been constantly told over recent times, there’s no skills shortage in the ICT sector, with the latest indicator of supply and demand clearly showing that there’s actually an oversupply of ICT professionals in the Australian market.

In fact, the latest Clarius Skills Indicator reveals that, for the March quarter, a slowdown in new IT systems investment and a sharp increase in offshoring information services to Asia have significantly swelled the oversupply of ICT professionals.

According to the Clarius Group – which includes ICT recruiter Candle - there was an oversupply of 1,800 professionals in the three months to the end of March, compared to surpluses of 1,500 and 1,200 for the September and December quarters last year respectively.

And, there was still an oversupply of 500 ICT managers in the March quarter, unchanged since December last year.

Meeting demand for professionals in the ICT sector, however, may pose difficulties for the future. Clarius reveals that attracting students to ICT related courses remains a problem, with the recent downturn in opportunity and offshoring accelerating the situation. Despite this, Clarius says that universities are pushing hard to attract candidates.

On the oversupply in the market, Clarius Group CEO Kym Quick says growth in offshoring IT services accelerated during 2013, up by a “staggering 20%” over the year, but that there are signs the project and employment tide is turning.

“Monthly imports of computers and similar devices were much stronger in the first two months of 2014 compared to last year signalling a step up in IT sector investment.

“Business and governments across the board have reduced investment in new technology and IT. Australian businesses took advantage of the high Aussie dollar which underwrote their use of foreign suppliers of ICT services. But we’re beginning to see a lift in project activity in the first half of 2014.

“Industry sectors showing positive signs include the transition by business and government to Cloud and mobility solutions, particularly in banking, finance, and health, digitisation and app development.

“There is also an increase in demand for data centres, and due to the demand for space which is expensive in all CBDs, there will be further opportunities in rural and outer suburbs.”

According to Quick, app development is driven by demand for smartphones, tablets, smart watches, in-car technology and in-flight technology.

“Australia has always been an early and enthusiastic adopter of new technology and the markets for these devices are driving demand for skilled developers, designers and engineers.”

Quick also says that Clarius has found that digitisation is starting to overtake many other projects as companies try to outpace or keep up with competition in their particular markets.

On a state-by-state basis here’s the market picture for ICT professionals for the March quarter from Clarius:


•    Candle has had a 34% in job opportunities in the March quarter for senior positions including project managers,
business analysts, architects and senior developers for a variety of federal government projects

•    Most demand is for contractors but this may be offsetting jobs lost by retrenched public servants

•    Telco’s and other large vendors supplying government departments are ramping up projects.


•    In NSW demand is increasing in Continuous Integration and Release Engineers in the Financial Sector, specifically in
core banking and financial trading

•    Infrastructure Engineers in the IT consulting space with high level design experience across Exchange and Active
Directory are in demand as consultancies engage in large scale projects with various NSW Government Departments

•    Skills in project management have been in high demand this quarter – a good sign that large and more complex projects
are getting off the ground.


•    Queensland’s healthcare sector has been the most active with sought after skills being PHP developers, help desk, web
designers, architects, systems testers, business systems analysts  and specific SAP skills

•    While further opportunities will arise in health, management services, consulting and in cloud based expertise, the
move to offshoring and outsourcing has adversely impacted the industry  

•    Salaries remain flat with contractor rates reducing by about 10 per cent in 2013. Hours have reduced from 40.0 to
36.25 hours for some. Clients are looking at flexibility to reduce costs.

 South Australia

•    Most activity in South Australia is coming from state and local government and in education. Demand has slowed in the
construction and SME sectors

•    The contract market is improving while the permanent market remains consistent

•    The market has seen an increase in business analyst work, help desk support and in the development space – both in
infrastructure and programs

•    Two significant IT roll outs are taking place in 2014 – deployment of the SA Health EPAS project in the Royal
Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth hospitals. Both will need more contractors, largely in the development space.

•    The market is starting to move across a range of skills requirements with a continued increase in the demand for
software developers particularly with .Net skills

•    The most activity is at the top end of the market in the Telco, Healthcare, Insurance and Education (Tertiary)

•    Other skills categories in demand are data analysis and SQL reporting – SSRS, network engineers for VMware and Cisco,
and Citrix Cloud based technologies

•    Victoria has seen a slight increase in higher level roles signifying some recovery.

Western Australia

•    WA has not experienced a resurgence in ICT opportunities in 2014. While a number of oil and gas projects are
proceeding, many are behind schedule

•    Mining is slow, but with the Roy Hill mine and some smaller projects outside of iron ore, demand may start to grow in
the latter parts of 2014

•    Business is particular about who it hires in the project management space due to the diverse range of demands.
There’s a large pool of professionals resetting their rates following long term mining contracts

•    Demand for back-end help and service desk staff with experience remains high as is demand for SharePoint and .Net


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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).