Contractors set for bumper year: recruiter

Demand will boom as projects go ahead

Rates for contractors are set to take off as 2011 progresses, says Tom Derbyshire, IT division manager at recruitment firm Robert Walters.

“The market will become very contractor-driven, as more projects are given the green light,” Derbyshire says.

“It will be a candidate-short market in the contractor space.”

At present, the contracting scene is quiet, he says, as many organisations focus on recruiting permanent staff; but contractors will be in greater demand as the year moves on.

“In the second half of 2010, many organisations were purely focused on hiring permanent resources, replacing teams that were lost during the downturn, and creating new teams.

“As confidence has returned to the market, organisations are taking on permanent staff.”

There will be an increase in salaries for permanent staff this year, but not to the same extent as for contractors, he says.

Those most likely to see an increase in contracting rates are project managers, programme managers, IT operations managers, ERP functional consultants and business analysts, according to Robert Walters’ 2011 global salary survey.

Employers seeking permanent staff are offering non-monetary incentives such as ongoing training, in order to recruit staff, Derbyshire says. “Many are taking the train-and-retain approach.”

The upturn will also cause an upturn in IT staff leaving for lucrative roles overseas, he suggests.

“Candidates will be leaving the country as the international market picks up, and Australia, especially, will be a magnet.

Derbyshire says he is also seeing a steady stream of returning expatriate New Zealanders and immigrants seeking IT work.

The commentary on the 2011 global salary survey notes that in Auckland, “Towards the end of 2010, the market became increasingly candidate-short.

“We anticipate this trend will continue as more roles are created in the marketplace.

“Where businesses are unable to secure the budget to recruit on a permanent basis, we expect to see them looking to recruit contractors.

“The contract market will be further boosted by an increase in projects implemented due to greater confidence in the market.”

Demand for permanent staff will be steady, the survey notes.

“We expect continued demand for professionals with cloud computing experience to be particularly high, as businesses look at ways to move their core functions, such as storage requirements, servers and security, to the cloud.

“Business intelligence and social networking experience will also be sought-after, while senior business analysts will be in demand.”

For Wellington, the commentary notes, “With technology key to the public sector’s drive for efficiency, we saw increased recruitment activity in this area.

“We also saw increased demand for IT professionals form the private sector, particularly within consulting firms, vendors and banks.”

For 2011, “We predict that there will be a continued strengthening in demand for all disciplines across the sector, as the economic conditions steadily improve.

“As underlying candidate shortages continue in many core IT disciplines, such as project management and business analysis, these will become more of an issue as demand increases.

“We therefore expect to see some increase in rates and salaries.

“The key to maintained recruitment activity in the Wellington market is continued consolidation of public spending, which will result in public sector organisations looking to upgrade outdated systems.”

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