IT salaries remain static in latest survey

Recruitment firm's most recent findings show some rises, but mostly falls

The difficult economic times have seen the average IT salary frozen at $75,000 for the past six months. As well, the average overall IT pay and benefits package has been reduced from $78,000 to $75,500, according to recruitment firm AbsoluteIT’s latest six-monthly salary report, which looks at pay in the April to September period.

The report is based on data provided by IT professionals to AbsoluteIT’s IT salaries website, www.itsalaries.co.nz.

Since the site was launched a year ago, 11,400 IT sector staffers have entered their details, with just over 9000 permanent employees providing information about their pay and benefits, and slightly more than 2000 contractors and part-time staff providing data.

Contractors have fared worse than permanent employees when it comes to pay rates, with the median hourly pay rate slipping 12.5 percent from a year ago, from $80 per hour to $70.

In its summary of key findings from the data, AbsoluteIT notes, “This year, many factors including the recession, the new Government and a very uncertain outlook have caused many organisations, public and private, to either give a very small across-the-board pay rise to their staff, impose a zero pay increase or even negotiate pay reductions.

“This has been the hot topic of many recent management discussion groups as employers work through the associated issues of offering less to employees, but expecting more.”

Other points noted include fewer staff being offered flexible working hours, training being “slashed as budgets tighten”, and employers “offering less when it comes to attracting new staff”.

Also, there has been a small reduction in the number of staff being offered paid health insurance.

However, there has been an uptake of mobile phone and mobile phone allowances as benefits, and in a small number of cases, extra annual leave has been offered.

There has been no change in company cars and car parks as benefits.

When it comes to salaries, most roles recorded a decline for the six months from April to September compared to the previous (September 2008 to March 2009) period.

For example, trainers’ salaries reduced from $55,000 to $49,000 in the lower salary band, from $60,000 to $55,500 in the medium band, and from $65,000 to $62,000 in the upper band.

“This relates directly to a reduction of 4 percent in the number of companies offering training to permanent employees”, the report notes.

(The report divided salaries into three bands, roughly equating to junior, intermediate and senior staff).

Other IT skill sets to record a significant fall in pay levels include pre-sales consultants, hardware engineers, lower and median-level security staff (despite an increase at the upper pay level), systems analysts and software developers.

Software analyst-programmers also recorded a decrease, but software architects’ remuneration was up across all pay bands, with an especially large jump – from $120,000 to $156,000 – at the top level.

There was also an anomaly in systems integration, with the lower and middle pay bands static, but senior practitioners recording an 11.1 percent increase, from $90,000 to $100,000.

Similarly, web/multimedia development saw a static result at the lower end, a slight decrease in the middle and a significant rise at the senior end, up to $75,000 from $67,500.

WAN/telecommunications also saw anomalous results, with a big increase in the middle band but falls at junior and senior level.

The information provided by the IT staffers who have entered their details gives insights into the Wellington and Auckland recruitment scenes, the commentary notes.

In Wellington, “overall vacancy numbers are increasing slightly across both the government and private sectors; contracting vacancies more so than permanent.

“We believe this is due to existing staff having had heavy workloads, due to restructuring and redundancies, and clients are not overly confident in hiring permanent employees, or they don’t have the mandate to do so.

“We have also noted an increase in some project work, which has fuelled the demand for contractors,” the report states.

There is a shortage of skilled staff in .Net and Java development, and in developers, middleware specialists and architects, while business analysts and project managers aren’t so much in demand.

An uplift in demand for sales and pre-sales staff suggests some organisations “are setting themselves up now to capitalise once the economy begins to turn”.

In Auckland, there has also been an upswing in contract roles as more projects get underway.

“We are now starting to see pressure on the availability of operational and hands-on skills in the market (developers, engineers and testers) as demand has increased, but with traditional shortages in this area compounded by fewer candidates actively looking in the market and preferring to stay in their current role.

“Business analysts are also proving difficult to source, which is another pointer to an increase in project activity.

“There are still a large number of middle management and project management candidates available, as these areas appeared hardest hit by the recession,” according to the commentary.

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