NZ IT pay still rising, hiring firm finds

Staffing remains tight in the industry, survey finds

While the skills shortage is still driving up salaries, the rate of increase in IT pay has slowed, according to recruitment firm absoluteIT’s latest remuneration survey.

The survey, which covers the period from January to June, shows pay rates increased by an average of 0.51% during that time, a downturn from the previous survey, which covered July to December last year and showed a 3.35% rise.

However, that’s due to the fact most pay increases happen in the second half of the year, says Grant Burley, a director at absoluteIT.

“The January-June period isn’t as busy, because there’s not much movement in January, or even February,” he says.

That’s been the trend with previous absoluteIT remuneration surveys, he says, and he expects the rate of increase in pay for the second half of this year to be higher.

AbsoluteIT surveyed 500 organisations in Auckland and Wellington to get the average pay rates of their ICT staff and divided the results into Auckland commercial, Wellington commercial and Wellington government.

While Auckland roles generally command higher pay rates than Wellington, there were several exceptions to this rule in the latest survey, most notably for project managers, programme managers and project directors. The average rate for project managers in the commercial sector in Wellington was $107,000, compared with $102,000 in Auckland.

Programme managers in the private sector in the capital earned $132,000, while their Auckland counterparts made $122,000. Programme managers employed in-house in government departments also out-earned their Auckland commercial sector colleagues, making $125,000 on average.

Government-employed project directors made $155,000, out-earning their private sector counterparts in both Wellington and Auckland, who made $142,000 and $135,000 respectively.

Burley says the higher rates in Wellington reflect the “huge demand” from many government agencies and state-owned enterprises for such staff. Many of the Wellington commercial project managers, programme managers and project directors are working for organisations with government contracts, he says.

Other Wellington roles with higher pay than in Auckland include systems architects, development architects, infrastructure architects and enterprise architects.

The higher salaries for those positions in Wellington were in the private sector, with government employees in those roles earning slightly less than in Auckland.

However, contract rates for those positions were higher in Wellington in both the public and private sectors.

At the top of the job pile, Auckland-based IT managers, CIOs, sales managers and sales directors made more than their Wellington counterparts.

Burley doesn’t see an end to the skills shortage that is driving those high salaries and contract rates.

“It will continue — the same issues will remain and I believe it will get worse”, he says.

Attracting immigrants from overseas is an important way of tackling the skills shortage, he says, and absoluteIT opened a London office last year to tap the British market.

While there’s plenty of interest by UK residents in coming to New Zealand to work in IT, doing so isn’t as easy as it should be, he says.

“New Zealand is still proving to be quite a challenging place to relocate to.”

While a talented New Zealand .Net developer with 4-5 years’ experience can get a working visa in the UK relatively easily, UK residents seeking to do the same and come to New Zealand “need to jump through a few hoops” to get a work visa and residency, he says.

“We’re competing for a global resource and we need to make it easier for people to enter.”

Retaining and nurturing local talent is another way of addressing the skills shortage and Burley says graduate programmes and giving staff non-monetary perks such as flexible working arrangements can help greatly.

Many employers are doing so, but some are lagging, he says.

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Tags careersskills shortageAbsoluteITremuneration survey

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