There are no signs of a let-up in the skills shortage so far this year, says Steve Gillingwater, associate director of the IT division at recruitment firm Robert Walters.
If anything, it’s going to get worse, he says. Staff and employers will need to develop retention strategies.
Offering non-financial perks, such as training and flexible hours, will help retain existing employees and attract new ones, he says.
“Power has shifted to the candidate — if a hot candidate has three or four offers, it’s up to the employer to impress the candidate.”
A dramatic example of the shift in power away from employers can be seen in the soaring demand for SAP specialists, says Gillingwater.
“Today, we consider them to be gold-dust, but three years ago they were in abundance and were fighting over scraps of work, with many forced to go offshore.”
As the IT industry has picked up over that time, and the upgrade cycle for SAP software has turned, many organisations are upgrading or implementing SAP, and demand has skyrocketed, he says.
“In the telco arena, there have been some decisions made to implement SAP across the board, for example.”
Robert Walters’ 2008 Global Salary Survey, an annual poll the firm carries out on wage expectations, predicts that, in New Zealand, ERP staffers are set to get healthy pay rises this year.
Average pay for ERP project managers will rise from $90,000-$130,000 last year to $100,000-$140,000 this year, and technical and functional ERP consultants, and business analysts, in the ERP space will also get pay rises.
Other areas where pay is set to rise include database administrators, especially Oracle admins, and .Net and Java developers.
“There’s huge demand for .Net developers, because many large organisations are improving their internet presence.”
Average pay for .Net and Java developers with six or more years’ experience is set to rise from $80,000-$100,000 to $85,000-$110,000 in Wellington, and by slightly less in Auckland. Those with less experience are also set for pay rises.
Oracle database administrators with six years’-plus experience will get raises from $70,000-$80,000 to $85,000-$110,000 in Auckland, and their Wellington counterparts will see pay rise from $70,000-$100,000 last year to $90,000-$130,000 this year. Less experienced Oracle DBAs will also see pay rises.
According to commentary in the survey, last year “Wellington’s IT market remained buoyant, with continued investment in large-scale projects from both the public and private sectors”, and “we envisage contract and permanent candidate demand will continue throughout 2008”.
In Auckland, “there seems to be quite a positive attitude in the market”, Gillingwater says.
“People are talking about more projects and more implementations, and hiring freezes are being removed.”
Employers are looking beyond New Zealand for staff, he says.
“Every quarter we go to the UK to recruit, and we have 5,000 candidates, mainly expat New Zealanders, on our UK database.”
There are also a number of UK residents wanting to come to New Zealand for the lifestyle and work in IT, he says.
There is now also a greater willingness by employers to take on staff who don’t have English as their first language, he says.
Some employers are also offering part-time roles and trying to attract those who have left the workforce, such as mothers and recent retirees, to return.