Meanwhile a local survey reveals companies are reinvesting in technology and salaries are rising in all sectors.
Hays, a recruitment agency, surveyed more than 1,700 respondents from SME to large multinational organisations across Australia and New Zealand and on Hays' specialist placements made over the last 12 months.
The survey revealed 58% of employers on average (across all sectors including IT) increased salaries by 3 to 6% and 25% increased salaries by less than 3%. Some 13% of employers raised salaries by 6 to 10% and 4% lifted salaries by more than 10%.
Regional director of Hays Information Technology, Peter Noblet, says that while IT salaries have increased steadily, they have not done so to the same extent experienced between 1999 and 2001.
"Companies have taken control of salary movements, rewarding high achievers through bonuses and performance-related pay rather than through salary increases across the board," he says.
Recruitment practices have also changed. Employers are beginning to widen selection criteria beyond looking purely at certifications, Noblet says.
"Candidates are advised that industry certifications coupled with experience are the keys to successful employment."
The demand for ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) skills continues to grow, which Noblet says is driven by businesses wanting to increasingly justify their IT spend.
"Companies obviously realize that they still need to gain competitive advantage with technology. In the dotcom days though, the focus was all on the customer. Now, there is growing focus on the back end and on how to increase efficiency — which is what ITIL is all about," he says.
"ITIL is now such a commonly sought skill from our clients to the point that helpdesk roles are not called helpdesk roles any more — they are service desk roles and an understanding of ITIL is generally required for these [positions]."
In addition to ITIL, other skills in demand include ERP due to a global upgrade in these systems, .Net and J2EE skills and an increasing demand for Linux and Citrix.
"I'm not suggesting that everyone suddenly wants Citrix, but there is a reasonable demand for it and very few people are skilled in it, probably because a few years ago everyone was doing Microsoft certifications," Noblet says.
On the development side, even though most projects are still being written in .Net and J2EE, companies are increasingly investing in Linux, so there will be room for a wider variety of open source coders, Noblet says.
"Overall there are a lot of senior people that are very capable and there are also a lot of people entering the market again. The nature of projects though is that you can't have five project leaders - you need some people the next level down, that's where we are finding it most difficult to fill places," he says.