IT not so gloomy in Auckland, survey shows

Feedback from respondents indicates sentiment remains positive

A survey by recruitment firm Potentia of CEOs and other managers at Auckland technology companies, and IT managers at large corporates, shows that while times are tough in the country’s biggest city, the picture isn’t as gloomy as was expected.

Potentia polled 453 individuals, across 405 organisations, during March and found that among organisations surveyed, 57% expect company revenues to increase by 2010, 31% forecast that revenue will stay the same, while only 12% believe it will decline over the next 12 months.

The firm’s commentary around this question notes: “Either the technology market is in denial, or a mix of influences such as technology advances, the falling dollar affecting exports positively and increased availability of talent, allowing product advances to reach the market, are positively impacting revenue for many organisations.

“Of course, with what seems to be a great deal of the blood having already been shed, people may just be bullish about their futures”, the commentary notes.

That bullishness is also seen in the answers to another question, about talent growth and change.

In response to, “Considering team growth and change, when are you next hiring?”; 21% said they were hiring at present, 18% said they would do so in the next three months, 12% planned to in the next six months and 11% intended to hire within a year.

Of the remainder, 28% were committed to hiring only if people left, while 11% wouldn’t hire under any circumstances.

As the commentary puts it, “Having the talent to fuel the expected growth is critical and the good news for the ICT labour market is that over 60% of companies are expecting to hire within the next 12 months, with a huge 21% doing so currently.

“Given this number, it perhaps represents the reality that a technology roadmap and development lifecycle demands that people continue to be added to teams whether for growth, replacement or new-skills acquisition.”

Just over half of those who are expecting to hire — 53% — said they will take on permanent staff, 35% will employ contractors and 12% will take on both.

Of respondent companies, 28% have made some redundancies and 2% have asked staff to reduce hours and/or salaries.

That means 70% of organisations polled haven’t initiated redundancy programmes or reduced hours/pay cuts, the commentary notes.

On salaries, two-thirds of respondents said they plan to pay about the same compared to six months ago when they hire new staff, while approximately a quarter expect to pay less, with only the remaining 3% planning to pay more.

The commentary notes: “The great majority expect the salaries they pay to new staff to be about same as six months ago, which is what we as recruiters expected to see”.

When it comes to investment in staff learning and development, most respondents said they plan to invest the same amount as last year, while nearly a third said they plan to spend more and 13% wanting to spend less.

In the conclusions section of the survey, Potentia managing director Josh Comrie notes: “Overall, the survey findings present a refreshing perspective on the Auckland economy, albeit in the technology sector.

“I suspect that the confidence may in part be due to the restructuring having been concluded.

“We don’t believe the year ahead will be easy, but reflect the confidence from the Reserve Bank that the second half of 2009 will bring a recovery to this recession in New Zealand.”

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