ICT sector confidence returning: survey

Hudson study shows cautious optimism in the sector

Technology industry employers and workers say the worst of the recession is over, but the downturn has left lasting effects on companies on both sides of the Tasman, new research shows.

Hudson ICT’s latest 20/20 series report, “Positioning for Growth – Building a Dynamic Workforce in a New Economic Era”, states that 26 percent of the companies surveyed have an upbeat outlook on the market, while 62 percent say their outlook is cautiously optimistic.

“We have been seeing clients, from the start of this year, starting to rebuild their teams in a variety of roles,” says Auckland-based Hudson ICT director Annabelle Klap. “The project space started to pick up late last year and that has continued into this year. But it is also the operational type roles that have come back into play.”

She adds firms are now being allowed to recruit again after some were restricted from hiring last year.

“Also, as some people leave their roles it creates another whirl of recruitment,” says Klap.

But while 73 percent of the surveyed firms said the technology industry was past the worst of the downturn, companies were still suffering some negative flow-on effects.

Nearly half of ICT employers surveyed for the report had made roles redundant during the recession, and overall, they had lost 10 percent of the workforce through redundancies and resignations. Hudson ICT says the research shows “cuts into the muscle” were made during the recession, with 73 percent of employers and 61 percent of employees believing their companies are under-resourced after these headcount reductions.

Nearly two-thirds of ICT employers also said they had been left without the right personnel to drive company growth. As well, 32 percent of total staff departures were said to be high performers within an organisation.

Companies are now trying to attract high-performing workers back to their firms, then retain them, says Klap.

“The major focus in a lot of organisations is the employee value proposition. Organisations need to look at their staff and nurture the ones they want to keep, and have a career progression and a learning and development plan in place to ensure they retain them.”

Forty-four percent of employers surveyed noted a decrease in profit or revenue during the downturn, 46 percent had downgraded their profit outlook, while 6 percent had been forced to cut prices.

The report shows two thirds of employees in the ICT companies surveyed were actively or passively job seeking, up from 49 percent on average last year. Nearly all those seeking other employment planned to be in a new role within 18 months, while 72 percent aimed to do so within six months.

Klap attributes this to a greater choice of roles within the industry, but also the difficulties employees faced during the downturn.

Twenty percent of the surveyed firms were based in New Zealand.

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