Staff scarcity to increase in next 12 months: survey

Poll of employers shows private sector is leading a hiring spree

System architects, business analysts and developers will be in short supply in the immediate future, according to recruitment firm AbsoluteIT’s inaugural Employer Intentions Survey.

The survey, which polled 536 employers during August about their hiring plans, revealed that three-quarters of respondents plan to increase headcount in the next 12 months. Breaking the hiring time frame down further, 48 percent of respondents plan to hire within the next three months, 15 percent in the next six months, and 13 percent in the next 12 months.

The new survey is designed to complement AbsoluteIT’s Employee Intentions and Salaries surveys. It is similar in nature to the Employment Expectations Survey that has been carried out by another recruitment firm, Hudson, for several years.

The predicted shortage of architects, business analysts and developers is a projection based on the scarcity of those skill-sets that already exists, AbsoluteIT director Grant Burley says.

“We already have talent shortages in key areas such as solutions and applications architects, business analysts and software developers,” Burley says in a statement accompanying the release of the survey.

“We expect that it will be increasingly difficult to find project managers, testers, and networking and infrastructure skills.”

Database administrators will also be in high demand, Burley says.

A major trend to emerge from the survey is that employers are leaning towards permanent staffers and away from contractors.

“This high level of permanent recruitment activity underpins not only growing employer confidence, but also indicates a move to a more settled workforce,” Burley says.

The reasons for the majority of respondents saying they’ll be hiring more IT staff are: new projects (34 percent); increased customer demand (21 percent); increased internal demand for IT within the organisation (18 percent); and expected employee churn (17.5 percent). The remaining 9 percent of respondents cited other reasons.

“Employers are telling us they feel much more confident, that predominantly they are bolstering headcount to meet new business, not because they are trying to replace lost people and ease the load on overworked staff,” Burley says.

AbsoluteIT’s commentary on the survey notes a big shift towards hiring permanent staff in the private sector.

“The data shows a significant rise in permanent recruitment activity, reflecting significant growth after a flat 18 to 20 months.

“The recruitment market has changed significantly over this period, following a major reduction in permanent recruiting by government in favour of contracting.

“Significant growth in the private sector is taking place, reflected in the increased permanent recruitment activity which always follows a surge in contracting needs.”

That the growth in hiring over the next year will be led by the private sector is seen in the breakdown between public and private sector respondents; 45 percent of government and regional council respondents said they had no plans to recruit in the next 12 months, whereas 52.4 percent of private sector employers surveyed said they intend to hire in the next three months.

“This partly reflects the Government’s clampdown on permanent ICT recruitment in favour of contracting as part of its overall spending cuts,” the commentary notes.

Corroborating this, the survey also notes a higher availability of permanent work in Auckland than in Wellington, with 64 percent of Auckland respondents planning to hire in the next 12 months and 51 percent in the next three months.

In Wellington, the figure is 59 percent for the next 12 months and 43 percent for the next three months.

Of those Wellington respondents who are planning to hire, 68 percent are looking at permanent staff and 42 percent at contractors. In Auckland, 79 percent of employers intending to hire will take on permanent staff, and 21 percent will hire contractors.

In total, the 536 employers surveyed indicated that, collectively, 1300 positions will be recruited for within the next year.

Burley says salary reviews and non-monetary incentives such as flexible workplace practices, will be helpful in retaining and attracting staff during the year ahead.

He says the brain drain, in which local IT staff seek work overseas, will add pressure to the situation.

Of the employers who responded to the survey, 37 percent were in local and central government, 40.4 percent were in private enterprise, 17.4 percent in publicly-listed companies and 5 percent in non-profit organisations.

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