Hiring survey shows IT still number one

Once more, tech sector tops recruitment intentions poll

IT has once again topped recruitment firm Hudson’s six-monthly survey of hiring intentions.

The latest survey, in which almost 2000 employers were polled about their hiring plans for the July-December period, showed that IT had a “net positive effect” of 55%, higher than any other sector.

The “net positive effect” is calculated by taking the percentage of employers who expect to increase staffing levels during the next six months and subtracting the percentage who expect to decrease staff levels.

It is the sixth time in a row that IT has come out on top in the survey, a result which shows that a slowing economy isn’t affecting IT as much as some sectors. For example, the construction/property/engineering sector recorded a net positive effect of just 17%.

Hudson IT&T general manager Campbell Hepburn says that while IT is often one of the first areas to be cut back by firms when the economy worsens, “as it continues to go down, people see it as a way to drive productivity and gain competitive advantage”.

The ongoing skills shortage across all sectors may be beneficial for IT, the report accompanying the survey notes.

“Many employers have found it so hard to find talent in recent years that they started looking at alternatives to improving productivity other than raising headcount. A number of IT solutions companies have been promoting technology to this end,” the report notes.

Also noted is that the drivers of the continued buoyancy of the IT sector are different in Wellington and Auckland.

In the Upper North Island, the report says, the high level of employer optimism is “likely to be due to the continued investment companies are making in technology to bring about increased productivity and improved competitiveness”.

Hepburn says that in the past 4-5 years, “Auckland has become more established as a place to be in the tech world”.

In Wellington, he says, the government and IT services sectors continue to drive demand for IT staff, and there continues to be a solid base of software companies in the capital, as well as its creative sector.

Government will always be a busy market for IT, he says, because much public sector IT work can’t be easily outsourced.

“Often, the specialist nature of government requires bespoke software development — applications are very specialised to the environment they’re used in.

“That means that while infrastructure may be outsourced, application development stays in-house.”

IT was also the most positive sector in the South Island, with the report noting that employers in the IT industry have retained a “buoyant outlook in their hiring intentions”, and are continually on the look-out for people with the right skills.

Pay rates in the South Island lag those in the north, Hepburn says.

Looking to next year, Hepburn says that with no let-up in fuel and food price rises in sight, New Zealand needs to remain adaptable.

“The great thing about New Zealand is our ability to adapt, and when we look at our IT companies they’re able to do things differently. New Zealand will continue to be a player in the market that can do things that are cost-effective and also innovative and creative.

“We’ll hold our own in what’s coming ahead.”

The report notes the labour market is not yet reflecting the worst of the country’s economic contraction and the unemployment rate remains at record lows.

“Employers are still overwhelmingly increasing or holding their permanent staff levels steady as opposed to taking any action to reduce headcount.”

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