Short-term contract preference for Christchurch: recruiter

Rebuild is sparking demand for technical IT skills; Auckland and Wellington also busy

A resurgence in project work has been one of the defining characteristics in IT employment over the past 12 months and employment trends reflect that, especially in Christchurch, says Hays Asia-Pacific regional director Peter Noblet.

“There is a feeling of confidence there at the moment, as many projects put on hold due to the quakes have been given the go-ahead again,” Noblet says.

“In the short term we are seeing a lot of IT roles coming in, and the increase in demand is for fixed-term contracts.”

Demand in Christchurch is high for infrastructure-related technology skills, such as network engineers, systems engineers and middleware engineers, as well as C# and C++ developers.

“With these technical roles, demand is very strong for people with four to six-years’ experience.”

Many of those taking up such roles in Christchurch “tend not to be looking at staying around long term” and it is harder to attract permanent candidates to the city, he says.

“Many want a fixed contract and long term there is a question mark there.”

Both Wellington and Auckland remain busy, with public sector projects driving Wellington, while Hays’ Auckland office is “very busy”.

Demand in Auckland is being driven largely by the telecommunications sector, but it is not the Ultra Fast Broadband project pushing this, but rather activity by smaller telco service providers, that is sparking current demand.

“We’re doing a lot of work with equipment providers.”

Demand for project managers and business analysts remains high, but vacancies at senior management level are thinner on the ground, due to many positions at that level being filled internally, Noblet says.

“It is that mid-level space where most of the demand is,” he says.

The commentary on Hays’ 2011 Salary Guide, which covers the June 2010-June 2011 year, notes: “Most employers have reintroduced yearly salary increases and are ensuring bonus structures are realistic and achievable.

“Contract rates have slowly risen as candidates seek to get back to pre-recession rates and employers are willing to match these candidate expectations, since they remain a cost-effective way to quickly increase headcount for key projects that have been delayed.”

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