The IT industry is in boom mode according to recruitment firm Morgan & Banks' latest quarterly job index, with the IT skills shortage creating the most dramatic movement in contractual and temporary work.
Information garnered from over 3206 employers nationally suggests that 59.1 per cent of Australian IT firms are predicting that they will hire more staff, with only 3.4 per cent intending to downsize. This is in comparison to a general industry average of 23.8 per cent.
Released last week, these figures might highlight the development of the IT industry but they are also a prelude to the increasingly dire issue of skill shortage in the IT community. Ian James, a consultant at Morgan & Banks, explains that the increase in contractual and temporary work to 14.6 per cent is an indication that the Australian industry was making alternative arrangements to long-term, permanent, skilled IT employees. "People recognise that they can't get all permanent staff. Contract work is balancing this recognition with the need that they still have to employ someone in an IT capacity."
James is blunt in his assessment of the current situation saying "the world is experiencing a skills shortage. People will suffer. They want it [skilled IT people] but they just won't be able to have it. That's just a fact of life."
Medium-sized enterprises, which James defines as having between 20-200 employees, are also experiencing dynamic growth, with 71.3 per cent of businesses planning to put on staff, a 14 per cent increase over last year's survey. Small businesses are at the other end of the scale declining 9.2 percentage points since the previous survey.
James explains both these phenomena with the simple fact that "a lot of organisations have grown into medium-sized businesses and there has been a lot of activity by systems providers".