The Australian IT&T industry has extended its decline in online job ads for the fifth month in a row. The Olivier Job Index fell 4.42% in October with Australian job ads counted per week declining by 20,107 positions over the month. The IT sector continued its poor year falling 2.28% for October to bring its annual rate of decline to 22.81% compared to last year. Olivier Group director, Bob Olivier, warns there was no relief in sight for IT workers as Australia teeters on the brink of recession. “I think the year to date has been a horror for the IT sector,” Olivier says. “On the contracting side, from the employer’s perspective, recruiters and those out in work currently, they are fine. But the difficulty will be as projects finish up there is no indication that businesses are prepared to invest in projects in the IT space, which will mean fairly lean times ahead for many.” Olivier advises contractors to go after permanent roles or seek an extension of their current work at least until the new year, as he does not expect there to be much on offer in the meantime. Even permanent roles and graduates, Olivier says, are in for a tough time ahead as employers focus on their bottom line and try to justify headcounts. “I don’t think they are retrenching with any relish, but I think that they are trying to justify both headcount and any new appointments. It’s hard in such an environment to think about your future talent, I think everyone is just preoccupied with the here and now when it gets that tight.” Only the financial services and administrative sectors suffered greater decline in job numbers than IT over the past year. Within IT the three largest market segments have all taken an annual battering: Multimedia, internet and graphics grew 5% this month but annually has dipped 16%; software development dropped 4.6% for the month and is down 24% for the year; and network communications and security is up 1.9% for the month but down 23% for the year. “It’s pretty much red ink throughout,” Olivier says. “It’s the accumulation of nine months of a very difficult environment; the Index has been coming off a couple of percentages every month, and we’re reversing the previous year’s good figures and we’re into negative territory.” Olivier says the downturn is due to the credit crisis, lack of consumer confidence and general business malaise, but is not industry or state specific. NSW, however, with its high concentration of white collar workers, was the worst performing state for October. “On a state by state basis [for the IT sector ], NSW is down 22.75% for the year, Victoria is down 27.32%, even WA is down 9.8%… IT in QLD is down 23.43%, and the other big one that I think is also accounting for some of the difficulty in the IT sector is the ACT which is down 17.56%…and its going to be more of the same we fear.” In September online job ads fell by 3.27%.