Australia a magnet for IT pros: recruiter

Survey of employee plans shows many want to work overseas

Australia is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for developers and other IT professionals, according to AbsoluteIT's latest Employee Intentions Survey.

The survey, completed by 2381 respondents over December, and analysed and compiled in January, revealed that a third were looking at opportunities overseas, with Australia the most popular destination.

AbsoluteIT director Grant Burley says: "We're seeing a lot of developers heading to Australia."

Of all the skill sets represented by survey respondents, developers "are the biggest gap we have in our demand in New Zealand.

"Look on any IT jobs website and the type in highest demand is developers, especially .Net developers."

When Computerworld spoke to Burley earlier this month, he said AbsoluteIT had approximately 50 developer vacancies on its books.

As well as developers, project managers and business analysts are seeking opportunities in Australia, he says.

Higher salaries and attractive enticement packages, such as sign-on bonuses and travel to overseas conferences, are being offered across the Tasman.

He says the skills shortage is "more competitive" in Australia than here, "and they're looking to New Zealand fill the gap".

The opportunities aren't just in Sydney and Melbourne, he says, but also in Brisbane and Perth.

"There's a mini-IT boom in Perth, driven by the mining industry with plenty on offer."

According to another regular survey on IT salaries carried out by the company the average New Zealand IT package is $80,000 a year, compared with A$91,0000 in Australia.

Local employers can reduce the chances of an employee exodus to Australia by offering flexible work practices, and the ability to work from home, he says.

"Employers need to spend more time thinking about how they can keep the talent here, and remote access doesn't cost a lot.

"It involves a degree of trust in the employee, while ensuring that proper processes are being followed and results are being delivered, but there are distinct benefits."

Burley cites himself as an example.

"I work from home a lot but I am always available.

"Employers get a lot out of offering that level of flexibility."

Other findings from the January 2011 Employee Intentions Survey include: Nearly 68 percent of respondents are considering a change in job this year; of the 35 per cent of respondents that would go overseas, salary is the key motivation; and that after Australia, the most popular destination for overseas job-seekers was the UK.

Since the previous survey in July 2010, the popularity of Australia has increased slightly, while the UK has become less desirable as a place to work.

Despite the desire by most respondents to change jobs if the right offer comes along, almost 83 percent said they were happy with their current employer and would recommend them as a good place to work.

"This suggests that employees understand the financial limitations many employers currently face," the survey commentary notes.

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