The New Zealand IT jobs market is faring better than Australia’s but, like their trans-Tasman cousins, recruiters here don’t foresee a recovery until next year.
In Australia, recruiters are reportedly shutting down as the IT and telecomms job market slows and IT workers are eyeing jobs in New Zealand. Sydney recruitment firm Olivier Group says online IT job ads declined 16.5% in September and over the past 12 months fell a massive 67.2%.
Norman Lacy of the Melbourne-based IT Consultants and Recuitments Association (ITCRA) says the events of September 11 are adding to the ongoing IT slowdown and will delay any recovery until mid-2002.
Kiwi consultants spoken to by Computerworld agree, with Auckland manager for Icon Recruitment Craig Parsons saying Australia is being further hit by companies putting projects on hold until after this month’s general election. Australians, he says, are even applying for Auckland-based jobs -- reversing recent trends of Kiwis heading across the Tasman for more money.
Parsons says the UK market is in similar trouble, with companies shelving projects and recruitment.
New Zealand, he says, is “holding its own” but there is "hesitation" in the market as companies freeze recruitment and adopt a "wait and see" approach. But it remains business as usual with large customers, who need staff for their projects.
Regional director for Spherion Brian Powell also expects an upturn next year, though the events of September 11 may delay it.
Powell says the market is the worst he’s seen it in his seven years in recruitment, with other factors including a flow-on effect from Y2K investment leading to a pause in the market and existing IT infrastructure becoming more reliable and longer-lasting.
Economic indicators and market research predict a recovery in mid-2002, but Spherion plan to increase staff rather than cut back, he says.
Robert Walters IT recruitment manager Glenn Bratton says until October his agency had had it’s “best year we’ve ever had”. But Bratton now likens current times to 1990-91, blaming a combination of economics, the war on terrorism and the local IT recruitment market having too many providers. He says it is hard to predict an improvement, suggesting the world economy needs to settle down first.
Barry O'Brien of recruitment firm Enterprise agrees global stability is needed before any recovery, saying uncertainty is delaying projects and recruitment. New Zealand, he says, is just having "a gentle slowdown" and "top operators" can still get well-paid roles.
However, Candle’s Christine Fitchew says her firm hasn't experienced anything like this before. "I hate to sound gloomy [but] I feel there is more bad news to come. Pretty much everyday somebody goes down or announced a client freeze."
Fitchew blames the general economy, cannot foresee any upturn, but says matters are no worse than in the 1987 "crash".
Australia-New Zealand general manager for IT@Manpower Darren Morris expects a gradual recovery next year, but says it will be 12 to 18 months before we see "heady days" again, if at all.
Firms are slashing staff to pare down capital costs, but are finding themselves short for projects, so are taking on more contractors.
“Companies are becoming too aggressive in letting people go. They are committing overkill,” he says.