Aussie IT job market predicted to be tight this year

In line with trends in New Zealand, recruiters across the Tasman are predicting a busy year for IT hiring. Dahna McConnachie reports

The Australian IT job market will be fruitful this year with telecommunications engineers particularly sought after, recruiters say. While demand will outstrip supply, “opening the floodgates” to candidates from outside Australia isn’t the answer, some recruiters say.

Candle ICT New South Wales general manager Peter Zonnevylle believes the bad press that IT has had following the dotcom collapse has caused the decrease in IT graduates that is fuelling the candidate shortage.

“A lot of people jumped in to study IT when it was booming but by the time they finished their degrees we were in a slump. Now that we need the people again they aren’t there. I think we’re going to feel that pain for a while and I think flexibility is required,” he says.

Zonnevylle urges caution for those looking abroad to fill the gaps.

“While we need to be flexible enough to bring in some professionals with certain skill sets to fill niche areas of demand, we need to be careful about it. Ideally, we should be looking at transferring these skills to local people.”

Companies need also to be more flexible in the way they recruit graduates and recognise that many degrees now include IT components, he says.

“I think we’re seeing that IT isn’t something you necessarily study as a career anymore. It is a tool, something that you use to do business. So I think companies should be more flexible in looking at good graduates from maths or physics, and then be prepared to offer intensive training in specific IT skills,” he says.

Zonnevylle says 2006 seems to be picking up already from the seasonal holiday slump.

“We’re certainly seeing the demand from the telco side, with the work that Telstra, Hutchison, Vodafone and Optus are all carrying out on 3G networks, and in the VoIP space,” he says.

“We’re also seeing demand from the second tier of professional services, as Telstra has outsourced a lot of that type of work now. So we’re seeing a lot of work coming through from the likes of Alcatel and Cisco.”

J2EE and .Net skills will continue to be in demand in the applications space and as many companies make upgrades, integrate projects and make new systems go live this year, test engineers will have no trouble finding work. Business analysts, compliance and security professionals will also be highly sought after, he says.

“Skills in emerging technologies will quite likely be required later in the year, and when Windows Vista comes out there will be demand for the relevant skills to support it,” he says.

Zonnevylle predicts that companies will convert a lot of their contract roles into permanent positions for day-to-day operational jobs.

“On the flip side of that, we believe companies will lean more heavily on contractors for the short term and specialised skills.”

The demand for IT professionals this year will not just be at the technical level, he says. “There has been a fairly steady demand at the senior end of the market which will possibly grow as the market heats up, but companies will have to dangle fairly big carrots to get the big name CIOs to move around.”

An internet job index pubished by Australian recruitment firm Olivier also paints a pretty picture for the IT job market, with IT outperforming other industries in growth by nearly 8% in 2005. Group Director Robert Olivier says the number of IT jobs will grow steadily this year.

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Tags job marketSpecial IDaustralian

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