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The hunt for IT skills heats up

The hunt for IT skills heats up

More evidence that enterprise IT shops face increasing bait from headhunters has surfaced, this time with a recruitment survey finding more than half the IT staff it canvassed claim to have been approached for new positions over the last year.

The poll conducted by recruiter Candle ICT found 51 percent of 1000 IT workers surveyed across Australia have been contacted in relation to taking up a new job while still holding a full-time position.

Candle says the most common approaches were by recruitment agents, informal connections (friends or industry contacts) or rival vendors. However, only 14 percent of those approached actually went on to make the switch new job, suggesting either that current employee satisfaction levels are high - or that some pencil sharpening on salaries is still in order.

Candle ICT NSW general manager Peter Zonnevylle said the strength of the current candidate market was not seasonal but rather an example of a growing shortage of skilled staff.

"Two years ago we would question whether we should put an ad in a paper because we would be buried in CVs," Zonnevylle said.

"Now, because of the supply and demand specifically in niche skill sets, both recruiters and hiring managers are going to have to look at ways and means [to attract candidates] rather than waiting for ads to be answered.

"The shortages in skills we see are .Net, J2EE, technical developers, project managers, SAP, Siebel, Documentum, WebMethods and Cognos."

Candle ICT national manager Trevor Taylor said replacing top talent in tight market conditions will fuel salary increases and staff turnover over the next six to 12 months.

"ICT decision makers need to address staff retention as a top priority for 2005. Headhunting will become ever more prevalent this year as we see the demand for highly-skilled ICT professionals rise," Taylor said.

However, rival recruiter Ambition does not see 2005 as the year of the headhunter.

Ambition managing director Paul Lyons said confidence in the wider economy translated to good news for technology workers - but discounted any prospect of 2005 becoming a bumper year for headhunters.

"I think across the board we are in for a steady year rather than a bumper year as there are definitely storm clouds on the horizon, but it depends on how business confidence holds up " Lyons said.

"The way we are at the moment indicates a steady year; I could not say a blockbuster year. Quite a few demand drivers are steadying rather than accelerating."


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