Recruiting stays strong despite economic jitters

New Zealanders might have the jitters over what's happening to our economy, but IT recruiters report there have been no negative effects on the recruitment market. Some even say it is booming. 'The fact the market seems to be very busy is a strong indicator that things might not be as bad as what some people are making out,' says one.

New Zealanders might have the jitters over what's happening to our economy, but IT recruiters report there have been no negative effects on the recruitment market. Some even say it is booming.

Candle's Gary Collier says the employment scene is a barometer for the economy. When the market starts to go sour, employment tends to slow down — usually the first area to get "knocked on the head" in tough times.

"Companies don't spend money on systems development and projects and that in turn is reflected in the number of people they're looking to recruit. So we feel the pinch of it very quickly and that just simply hasn't been the case this time around. It's very buoyant."

"The fact the market seems to be very busy is a strong indicator that things might not be as bad as what some people are making out."

He says things like year 2000 projects — which have to go ahead regardless of the state of business — are helping to drive the market.

"Companies have to address the issue ... and I'm sure a lot of the development that's happening at the moment has year 2000 as a strong driver."

He says all aspects of recruitment are busy, including permanent and contracting positions in systems development, networking, and communications, sales and marketing.

Doug White of Wilson White says rather than experiencing a downturn, IT recruitment seems to have had a boost.

"Back in April, when everybody was predicting doom and gloom, we had our best April ever since we began 18 years ago. It makes you wonder what's happening."

One explanation could be that people in IT tend to take strategic views and expect that the current economic situation will be just a "blip" that won't affect them long-term.

He says another explanation could be that staff might be anticipating a downturn and are therefore going that extra mile and putting their heads down. Another reason could be that staff were just doing a good job. "All those things could all be part of the equation."

He also points out that although IT employment is affected by tough times, often there is a delay before the effect takes hold.

"I remember in the last downturn, in 1991, IT was six months behind everybody else."

However, he doesn't believe that will happen this time. He also doesn't believe the year 2000 is a major driver of IT recruitment. "Probably 15% to 20% is year 2000-related, so it's a very small percentage."

Compuforce general manager Ian McTavish agrees about recruitment being buoyant, saying he hasn't seen any slowdown.

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