A decrease in new IT investment and a steep rise in offshoring information services jobs to Asia have lead to an oversupply of ICT professionals. That's according to the May 2014 Clarius Skills Indicator which shows fluctuating fortunes for ICT professionals.
There was an oversupply of 1800 professionals in the March quarter, 2014, compared to a December quarter, 2013, surplus of 1200 and a September quarter, 2013, surplus of 1500. There is an oversupply of 500 ICT managers, unchanged since December 2013. Clarius Group chief executive, Kym Quick, said growth in offshoring IT services increased by staggering 20 per cent over the year.
But there were also signs the project and employment tide was turning. “Monthly imports of computers and similar devices were much stronger in the first two months of 2014 compared to last year signalling a step up in IT sector investment,” she said. “Business and governments across the board have reduced investment in new technology and IT.
She said Australian businesses took advantage of the high Aussie dollar which underwrote their use of foreign suppliers of ICT services.
"But we’re beginning to see a lift in project activity in the first half of 2014," she said. The report found industry sectors showing positive signs include the transition by business and government to Cloud and mobility solutions, particularly in banking, finance, and health, digitisation and app development There was also an increase in demand for datacentres, and due to the demand for space, which is expensive in all CBDs, there will be further opportunities in rural and outer suburbs. Ms Quick said app development is driven by demand for smartphones, tablets, smart watches, in-car technology and in-flight technology. “Australia has always been an early and enthusiastic adopter of new technology and the markets for these devices is driving demand for skilled developers, designers and engineers,” she said. "Digitisation is starting to overtake many other projects as companies try to outpace or keep up with competition in their particular markets. However, attracting students to ICT-related courses remains a problem and the recent downturn in opportunity and offshoring has accelerated the situation.
The report also gives a state-by-state round up of the employment market. In NSW, demand is increasing in continuous integration and release engineers in the financial sector, specifically in core banking and financial trading. Infrastructure engineers in the IT consulting space with high level design experience across Exchange and Active Directory are in demand as consultancies engage in large scale projects with various NSW government departments. Skills in project management have been in high demand this quarter – a good sign that large and more complex projects are getting off the ground. Queensland’s healthcare sector has been the most active with sought after skills being PHP developers, help desk, web designers, architects, systems testers, business systems analysts and specific SAP skills. While further opportunities will arise in health, management services, consulting and in cloud based expertise, the move to offshoring and outsourcing has adversely impacted the industry. Salaries remain flat with contractor rates reducing by about 10 per cent in 2013.
Hours have reduced from 40.00 to 36.25 hours for some. Clients are looking at flexibility to reduce costs. Most activity in South Australia is coming from state and local government and in education. Demand has slowed in the construction and SME sectors. The contract market is improving while the permanent market remains consistent. The SA market has also seen an increase in business analyst work, help desk support and in the development space – both in infrastructure and programs. Two significant IT roll outs are taking place in 2014 – deployment of the SA Health EPAS project in the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth hospitals. Both will need more contractors, largely in the development space. In Victoria, the market is starting to move across a range of skills requirements with a continued increase in the demand for software developers particularly with .Net skills. The most activity is at the top end of the market in the telco, healthcare, insurance and education (tertiary) sectors. Other skills categories in demand are data analysis and SQL reporting – SSRS, network engineers for VMware and Cisco, and Citrix Cloud-based technologies. Victoria has seen a slight increase in higher level roles signifying some recovery. WA has not experienced a resurgence in ICT opportunities in 2014. While a number of oil and gas projects are proceeding, many are behind schedule. Mining is slow, but with the Roy Hill mine and some smaller projects outside of iron ore, demand may start to grow in the latter parts of 2014. Business in WA is particular about who it hires in the project management space due to the diverse range of demands. There’s a large pool of professionals resetting their rates following long term mining contracts. Demand for back-end help and service desk staff with experience remains high as is demand for SharePoint and .Net developers.