Despite a lift in demand for information technology executives, human resources consultancy EL Consult forecasts a modest "crescent-shaped" recovery for the second half of 2002.
In a recent survey the company recorded a strong pick up in demand in the public sector for IT executives. However, the demand in the private sector, crucial for a recovery, continues to be patchy.
The EL Index, which has been conducted on a monthly basis since 1991, revealed IT rose by 10% in March compared with the previous month. According to EL Consult, this indicates that demand in the sector may have at least reached a short-term bottom.
Yet the IT sector and the engineering sector recorded the biggest improvements in demand while the financial sector was flat and management and marketing fell back.
New South Wales showed the strongest performance, rebounding after two consecutive months of losses to impact the IT index.
Significant gains in the public sector across the country also contributed to the rise, particularly in Victoria and Queensland.
Grant Montgomery, managing director at EL Consult, says it will be a "gentle drawn-out recovery rather than a quick return to boom conditions". He added that the government sector was the main contributor to the demand for March.
"Generally our previous prediction of a return to buoyant economic conditions by the middle of this year seems well on track, though the strength and longevity of the upturn will be entirely dependant on international conditions.
"While I don't believe that the State and Federal Governments are working together to spend us out of a downturn the fact remains that spending on infrastructure is one of the best ways to stimulate a slowing economy. Infrastructure spending benefits the economy and standard of living for years to come," he adds.
The group identifies an IT executive position as any corporate position, such as CIOs, MIS managers, network managers or systems architects, that involves electronic data processing software, but not data entry.