Recruiters pick busy year in 2011

Skills shortages tipped to return as industry recovers

IT professionals are expected to be in hot demand this year, with many recruiters predicting a skills shortage.

AbsoluteIT director Grant Burley says, “I believe we’re in for a very buoyant and busy year.

“There’s a high degree of optimism among our customers, because they’re developing new markets, niches and products.”

Examples include Orion Software, which recently opened a Christchurch site and hired approximately 30 developers, and Xero, which is developing new products and services as it pushes into the US market, Burley says. “These companies aren’t just New Zealand-oriented,"

In addition, Telecom told the Dominion Post it expects to take on 300 ICT workers as it brings work previously outsourced to Hewlett-Packard back in house.

Wellington’s IT scene will be busy, “because government agencies have some promises to fulfil, and pre-election, it will be all hands to the pump.

“Most government agencies are busy developing new services, and with technology offering so much more business functionality, there are new opportunities for organisations, and more staff are required.”

Demand for software developers, tester, as well as those with high-end consulting and project management skills will be strong and Burley predicts a return to skills-shortage conditions.

Pay rates across the IT industry went up on average approximately 1 per cent last year, he says, “and they’ll increase by more this year.”

When it comes to hiring, “there will be more competition and multiple offers.”

The Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB)initiative will further boost the software development industry, and as regions get connected, “we’ll start seeing development houses set up in the provinces.

“For example, a software shop was recently set up in Martinborough.”

Overall, “we’re in for a fizzy year”, Burley says.

Andy Mardell, director of recruitment firm MTR, says, “We’ve all noted a bit more confidence in the IT market.”

MTR opened its offices on January 5 and Mardell says things have been exceptionally busy for early January. “From January 5 to January 11, we would have had five good, solid jobs come in.

“That’s not typical for this time of year.”

Demand is being driven by a resurgence in the industry, he says.

“I believe IT has been held back for the past 18 months and confidence is now back in the market.”

Demand is strong for first, second and third-level demand roles, across both desktop and server support, and IT sales people, business analysts and web developers are also in short supply, Mardell says.

“C#, .Net and Ajax developers, working on front-end web development, are in demand.”

Employers are requesting candidates with both technical and people skills, he says.

“It’s becoming increasingly valuable to find someone who can communicate effectively.”

Overall, “this year will be a bumper year”, he predicts.

Peter Noblet, Asia-Pacific regional director at Hays, says “From February and March onwards, we will start seeing a lot more going on, continuing the trend we saw at the end of 2010.

“We saw a much bigger uptake of IT roles going on then.”

Noblet predicts skills shortages in Microsoft development technologies such as C# and .Net, and in SharePoint.

“There is also a fair bit of activity in Java, due to increased project demand.”

In the telecomms space, initiatives such as the UFB project and Rural Broadband Initiative will drive demand for telco skills, “and there will be a knock-on effect, with suppliers to those projects needing to hire staff”.

Renewed project activity, following the green lighting of projects put on hold during the recession, is driving demand for project managers and business analysts, he says.

This year may well see a return to the situation of three to four years ago, when there was a widespread skills shortage across the industry.

“Employers will be focused on both retaining and attracting staff.”

Kelly Services managing director Debbie Grenfell says “As has already been heralded by the latest NZIER survey of business confidence, Kelly Services expects to see increasing optimism across the New Zealand market in 2011.

“Kelly Executive IT specialists expect to see a number of in-demand areas emerge across the IT industry in 2011, particularly in fields where work has remained constant throughout the global financial crisis and recession.

“This should include increasing demand for recruitment specialists, developers, business analysts, project managers and solution architects.

“Kelly Executive is also expecting to see a shift in preference from permanent employment back into contract work for consultants who were looking for greater job security over the last year,” Grenfell says.

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