IT bosses expect jobs recovery

The nation's IT managers expect little change in the size of their own IT departments, but show more optimism when asked about the wider IT jobs market.

The nation's IT managers expect little change in the size of their own IT departments, but show more optimism when asked about the wider IT jobs market.

The health sector could be among the growth areas. Waikato district health board is expecting to increase its knowledge information management department from 40 to 45 as it works to improve the interfaces between GPs' clinical systems and hospital staff.

IT skills are getting easier to find, says CIO David Menzies, but he voices concerns in finding people with top-notch skills and experience. Menzies fears a range of health IT initiatives under way at Britain's National Health Service will lead to many health IT professionals heading to the UK.

Sealord hopes to increase its staffing by a handful this year once a delayed ERP system is approved. IS manager Andrew Dean says the fish processor's new CEO is reviewing projects but Dean's 15 Nelson-based staff should be kept busy all year.

Dean believes it is easier to find staff now than 12 to 18 months ago, though he expresses surprise at how many job vacancies have been posted on the internet this month, suggesting some sort of recovery.

Wellington Regional Council, Auckland City Council, Transit NZ and Seatrans expect little change in staffing levels over the coming year.

Auckland City Council ICT manager Ian Rae says he plans to use his crew "more smartly" to enable them to do more. IT systems are also becoming smarter and able to do more with less human intervention, he says.

"I would expect the market to continue to provide good choice for the employer next year," Rae says.

Seatrans IT manager Mark Hales says the shipping company has had no trouble finding IT staff. He is fairly optimistic about the IT jobs market in general, though Auckland is more buoyant than Wellington's "dead" jobs market, he says.

The IT Association is bullish about the IT sector's prospects, saying the political cycle will force the government to launch projects in the health, education and other sectors in advance of the 2005 general election, though a war in the Arabian gulf could disrupt the global and local economy.

Itanz executive officer Jim O'Neill says New Zealand's economic prospects are "pretty good this year". Recovery will follow from the US and make the jobs market more buoyant than last year, he says, though there will be no spectacular take-off.

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