Demand for ERP staff still strong, despite economy

While some areas of IT are seeing a downturn in demand for employees, there’s no shortage of work in ERP, says Steve Gillingwater, director of recruitment firm Robert Walters’ IT division.

The firm’s latest salary survey notes that last year, “a lack of ERP specialists resulted in increased demand for candidates with these specific skill sets.”

The situation is set to continue, with the survey noting “many companies and organisations are either upgrading or installing various ERP platforms, with some significant implementations planned for 2009” and that “this will result in an even greater demand for resource for 2009 and 2010”.

While that commentary is specifically about the Auckland market, Gillingwater says demand for ERP specialists is high nation-wide.

This is being driven by several factors, including PeopleSoft systems at educational institutions being upgraded, Vodafone implementing SAP, along with implementations of other ERP systems at companies, such as Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV.

There’s also a big SAP upgrade project in Wellington in the pipeline, he says.

The upshot is there’s an ongoing shortage of skilled ERP staff, he says, driven by the continued local activity in the sector and by ongoing opportunities for New Zealand ERP specialists overseas.

“We’ve seen huge demand for ERP offshore.

“In Western Australia, for example, there are a lot of ERP specialists from New Zealand.”

While there’s an influx of New Zealanders coming back from the UK, those with ERP skills “are still sought-after in the London market”.

The shortage of local candidates means his company is looking overseas to fill ERP jobs, Gillingwater says.

“We’re continuing offshore sourcing, mainly from Europe and London.”

The main area of skills shortage within ERP is functional consultants, he says.

While ERP is still experiencing a skills shortage, in other areas of IT demand for candidates has lessened, he says.

With fewer projects on the go, there are “high-quality people” in the project management and business analyst fields who “can’t find work”, he says.

On the software development side, “there’s still demand for Java and .Net developers”, but the market is more candidate-rich now than six months ago.

In the helpdesk area, “many companies are advertising directly and are overwhelmed by the response – they’re getting hundreds of CVs.”

Network support and administration roles are also attracting many candidates, Gillingwater says.

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