Permanent hiring plans down as uncertainty bites: survey

Latest Hudson hiring intentions poll shows shift to contracting

Hiring plans in the IT sector have softened, according to recruitment firm Hudson’s latest quarterly employment expectations survey.

However, IT remains the most positive sector in terms of the number of employers who intend to increase headcount.

The survey polls employers in various industries, including IT, on whether they will increase or decrease staffing levels in the coming three-month period. The latest survey polled employers about their plans in the April-June quarter.

A net positive 37.5 percent of employers in the IT industry intend to boost hiring this quarter. The “net positive” figure is arrived at by taking the percentage of employers who intend to increase staffing levels and subtracting the percentage who plan to shed staff.

The commentary on the survey notes: “Despite sentiment softening 14.8 percentage points in the IT industry [from the previous survey] to a net 37.5 percent, it remains the most positive industry this quarter.

“Nearly half of employers plan to increase headcount this quarter, with an equal amount planning to hold steady.

“Many organisations planned projects at the end of last year, resourcing themselves accordingly.

“That said, there is still ample demand for project managers and business analysts in the sector, and there are several large transformation projects, particularly in the banking sector.”

In the upper North Island, hiring intentions in IT dropped to 31.3 percent, 36 percentage points below the previous survey.

“This reverse in trend is down to an increase in contract/temporary staff by IT and telecommunications companies, which are increasingly opting to steer away from the commitment of permanent staff in an unknown economic landscape,” the report commentary notes.

Overall, in the North Island, plans to hire IT contractors were up.

“The information technology industry is also sitting at 25 percent net sentiment, up 9.9 percentage points, which contrasts with the decline in permanent hiring in the industry.

“The spike in permanent hiring last quarter, followed by the increase in temporary/contracting roles this quarter, suggests that many of the project managers are in place now and temporary/contracting staff are being employed to implement projects.”

In telecommunications, which the survey counts as a separate industry sector to IT, uncertainty regarding the UFB project is contributing to caution among hirers.

In the permanent hiring space, “Nearly 30 percent of telecommunications employers are planning to decrease headcount in the next three months.

“This has driven sentiment in the industry by 34.4 percentage points to a net level of just 2 percent.

“However, this followed an even bigger upswing [36.4 percentage points] in net sentiment the previous quarter.

“The volatility in the marketplace is also fuelled by major players waiting on key decision points in the implementation of the government’s ultra-fast broadband initiative, and the rumblings of discontent about the policy process are beginning to be heard.”

In telecommunications contracting, “More than 20 percent of employers are planning to decrease the number of their contract/temporary staff, representing a certain degree of stalling or inactivity in the industry.”

Figures for South Island employers weren’t broken out, as they normally are in the survey; while many South Island employers took part in the overall survey, others were unable to due to the Christchurch earthquake.

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