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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 17:40

Skills and salaries skip ahead


After a year in the doldrums there are early signals that demand for ICT skills is again on the rise - particularly for business analysts, programme and project managers and test analysts - suggesting that salary increases may also lie ahead.

According to the Clarius Skills Index which measures the gap between supply and demand, after five consecutive falls in the index, the December quarter recorded a small rise. In IT, the usual recruitment hiatus from December to Australia Day did not materialise, with Clarius subsidiary Candle ICT reporting that organisations came back in the market looking for technology talent during the last six weeks of 2009 - and that has continued through January.

Across the board - in all professions - the report suggests that there will be salary increases of 3 per cent in 2009/10 rising to 4.5 per cent in 2010/11. ICT professionals however might expect even greater increases according to David Stewart, chief executive officer of Candle ICT.

Speaking to iTWire he admitted surprise at the robust return in demand for ICT skills during the quarter. 'I was taken by surprise a bit. I'd have predicted a slow and steady recovery in 2010 - in fact there has been a flurry of activity in December and January.'

However he said that he would like to see a strong February to back up the recovery and be sure the bounce isn't just a response to pent up demand.

Thus far however organisations are again hiring full time, permanent computer professionals.

Supply and demand for ICT professionals is almost balanced at 99.8 (an index of 100 represents supply-demand equality), according to the report, which was prepared for the Clarius Group by KPMG Econtech. The report identified a shortfall of 500 computer professionals during the quarter and suggests that skills demand is clearly headed north again.

There will however be quite a climb to recover ground back to the index level of 103.2 that ICT professionals enjoyed during the December quarter of 2008 when they were still calling the shots.

But as Stewart noted, with demand on the move for business analysts, programme and project managers and test analysts - typically roles needed at the beginning of projects - the trend augurs well for even more ICT skills demand as projects move to implementation and delivery over the next two to three months.

He said greatest demand to date was coming from telecommunications companies, and organisations involved in major infrastructure programmes. In terms of specific skills he said that VMware, Citrix, Active Directory, WebSphere and Sharepoint skills were being sought.

Although the recruitment green shoots are only just emerging the news will no doubt encourage the ranks of students who are once again signing up for ICT courses. According to the Clarius report the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations' report on 2009 final applications showed that demand for ICT tertiary courses rose by a healthy 10 per cent.

Demand for knowledge management professionals has also seen an uptick according to the report. Although knowledge management was mothballed as the GFC bit, demand for knowledge management professionals rose in late 2009; 'As organisations began to sense that they were in recovery mode and wanted to capitalise on streamlining and improving the efficiency of the way they stored and retrieved information.'

This has also reflected in the marketplace where strong growth among suppliers of business analytical software has been reported - both SAS and Inside Info this week announced strong local demand for products and services.

In general across all job sectors the Clarius report notes that; 'Over the last six months firms have been preparing for expansion and those plans are now being implemented.' In the last quarter of the year oversupply in all job categories dropped from 45,000 to 17,000 people.

In geographic terms the greatest pick up in demand came from NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, with resources led West Australia lagging.


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