NZ IT sector hiring plans show upward trend

Employers intend to put more emphasis on recruiting this year, poll shows

Once more, IT has topped the list of industry sectors in recruitment firm Hudson’s latest quarterly survey of employer hiring intentions.

A net positive 40.4 percent of employers in IT expect to hire staff this quarter, an increase of 15 percentage points on the previous survey.

(The “net effect” figure is calculated by taking the percentage of employers that expect to increase staffing levels during the next three months, then subtracting the percentage of employers surveyed who expect to decrease staff levels).

IT has been the most positive of the 19 sectors polled for most of the past few years and the degree of optimism is such that Hudson’s commentary on the figures from the South Island mentions the term “skills shortage”, which hasn’t been much heard in discussions of the IT hiring scene since the boom days of 2008.

The commentary notes that in the south, “Employers in the IT industry remain continually on the lookout for difficult to find skill sets, with a net 50 percent planning to look for permanent staff in the coming three months.”

(The survey polled employers’ hiring intentions for the January-March quarter.)

“With the IT skills shortage expected to remain for the foreseeable future, some employers are even looking for talent offshore … while others are allowing employees to work remotely as a way of accessing skills not available locally.”

The 50 percent net positive figure for the South Island is 7.9 percentage points up on the previous survey.

In the lower North Island, the commentary notes, “IT employers are amongst the most optimistic in the region, as employers become increasingly open to recruiting when they see good candidates.

“A net 45.7 percent of employers are now intending to increase their permanent staff levels over the coming three months, a result 11.8 percentage points higher than that recorded last quarter.”

The upper North Island also saw an upswing in optimism.

“Sentiment in the IT sector has bounced back from a dip last quarter, with a strong increase of 33.1 percentage points.

“Now amongst the most confident [sectors] in the region, a net 29.7 percent of employers reported an intention to increase their permanent staff levels over the coming three months.

“There is a sense that as businesses become more upbeat about their future cash flows, they will start to breathe life back into some of the large-ticket IT projects that were put on hold 12 to 18 months ago, for example the implementation of large enterprise resource planning systems such as SAP.

“Some organisations are also looking to bring their IT function in-house, generating a need to look for staff directly,” the commentary notes.

The figures quoted and observations made refer to the market for permanent staff. But in the contracting and temporary hiring space, IT still tops the hiring intentions list; a net positive 12.8 percent of employers said they would hire more contractors and temporary staff, up 4.4 percentage points from the previous quarter.

Telecommunications is treated as a separate sector to IT and the survey also notes buoyancy in that space.

“A net 34.3 percent of employers in the telecommunications industry have reported an intention to increase their permanent staff levels over the coming three months, up 23.3 per cent from last quarter,” the commentary notes.

“After tight controls on investment for most of 2009, there is now a sense that freezes may be lifted, with flow-on effects for hiring.”

Optimism in telecommunications was particularly strong in the lower North Island, where a net 32 percent of employers have reported an intention to increase their permanent staff levels over the coming three months, up 20.6 percentage points from the previous quarter.

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