The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has released its Survey of Salaries and Remuneration Packaging for the ICT industry, which saw a half-percent drop in the average salary but bore no evidence of wage inflation despite the skills shortage.
"The median increase has been around 5% (over the past six months) which is quite good," AIIA CEO Sheryle Moon told Computerworld.
Moon says there had been a lot of unproductive discussion around wage inflation and there was no evidence in the Salary Survey that the debate was warranted.
"It confirms what has really been the trend now for about 18 months which is the 5.5% increase. It is above the CPI, but there is no evidence of wage inflation even though we've still got significant skills shortages."
Moon says experienced IT professionals such as project and programme managers, people with experience in the outsourcing environment and business analysts with 10-plus years of skills enjoyed the highest increase in median salary rates.
"The very senior positions have pretty much always been in high demand and attract high salaries because it's very difficult to find people with those skills.
"The interesting thing from this survey was we saw a greater increase in non-technical skilled people in IT companies; marketing people, HR people, and legal people rather than the IT technical people."
Moon says employers are facing a tough time finding and retaining the right employees, especially in the nation's capital where skilled IT workers are soaked up by very large Federal government projects or working for the vendors supplying to the government.
"It's very difficult, nationally across Australia for every vacancy there are about four suitable people, and in Canberra that is down to about one to one," she says.
The survey found healthy levels of voluntary staff attrition — the number of permanent staff leaving an organisation — at around 15%.
Moon says that this meant employers are enduring a tough slog tapping into a passive labour market rather than an active job seeker market.
Employers are turning to new methods to attract and retain talent in response to the skills shortage by offering flexible and individual arrangements to keep staff on board, and becoming increasingly open minded to people that want to spend more time with their families or work part time.
"We're now starting to see some of the retention strategies coming into play and being successful, particularly in flexible working arrangements. Making sure that it's easy for women to come back to work from having children in particular," Moon says.
According to a statement from the AIIA, total staff attrition including issues associated with mergers and acquisitions sits at nearly 19.7%. This figure is higher than average and reflects the volatile nature of the industry in today's environment of economic turbulence due to inflation, impending IR legislation change and speculation about wage blowouts.
"The current economic climate means that it is imperative for executives, line managers and HR professionals to understand the actual movements in ICT salaries over last six months in order to have informative discussions with employees and to budget responsibly into the future," Moon says.