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Wednesday, 12 May 2010 08:52

IT&T workforce remains buoyant about prospects


The battering that the economy took during the global financial crisis has not dented the confidence and optimism of IT&T workers who believe their current and future prospects are good, according to a survey conducted by recruitment specialist Greythorn Australia.

The survey of almost 3,000 IT&T professionals found that younger workers in particular were confident that their skills would lead them toward good career opportunities, and had not considered a career switch during the downturn.

Greythorn's recently appointed managing director Richard Fischer said that the results prove that: 'IT is a significant qualification - much like accounting. People with less than ten years experience think that with that qualification, and the currency of their skills, their chance for employment is very high.' He said this was in stark contrast to the mood during the last economic downturn in 2001-3 when IT&T workers felt very gloomy about their long term prospects.

'It is now a much much more mature employment market for IT workers. In the previous IT downturn almost half of all contractors were cut. This time there have been cuts in corporate and government, but only up to around 15 per cent.

'IT has reached a level of significance where they are loath to cut deeply into skills or technology,' said Fischer.

While younger employees, with around ten years' experience were among the most optimistic, 69 per cent of employees with more than 20 years IT experience were also optimistic and had not considered making a career change during the GFC according to Fischer.  He believed the survey should encourage people to continue considering IT as a career, and encourage parents to suggest IT as a career to their offspring.

'In previous downturns we have seen people leaving the industry - but not this time,' said Fischer.

According to the survey 85 per cent of IT professionals with 1-10 years experience and 75 per cent of people with 11-20 years experience said they did not consider switching careers during the GFC.

He said that demand for IT skills had swung up significantly during the first quarter of the year, which was putting pressure on skills supply. 'You see employers who think they can take two to three weeks to make a decision, but most candidates have three or four opportunities and offers so employers have to make a quick decision.'

Despite the apparent recovery in demand, Fischer said that this had yet to play out in terms of salaries on offer. 'We have seen over the last year salaries for new appointments and contractors drop 10-15 per cent particularly in contracting roles.

'It took two to three years to raise that 10-15 per cent and it dropped back again in two quarters. We are now seeing salaries flat - but not for long,' he warned.

According to Fischer:  'We are at the critical tipping point between candidate demand and candidate availability right now. If demand continues to increase as it has during the first part of 2010, and we expect it will, Australia's critical IT skills shortage will have returned to pre-GFC levels by the end of Q2 this year.

'Most IT projects postponed during the downturn have now been reinstated and over the next few months employers will once again be facing the same, if not worse attraction,retention and salary issues as those they were facing during the first half of 2008. While this is positive news for IT employees it is less than ideal for employers.

'Employers are advised to move quickly to replenish the human capital in their IT departments before the inevitable squeeze returns,' said Fischer.

According to the company the skills currently in greatest demand include SAP; risk analysis and business intelligence; .Net; web developers; business analysts; and, project managers.

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