Confidence in Australia's IT industry is beginning to pick up with budgets improving and headcount freezes lifting, according to a recruitment company survey.
Paul Rush, an IT director in Robert Walters' Melbourne office, said there is a broad spread of roles opening up across the whole spectrum of the IT industry.
Rush said the one exception is at the top level of the market where there is little movement, with CIO and CTO roles extremely rare.
He said contracting rates were substantially lower than 18 months ago, which means candidates need to be flexible in both rates and roles.
"The IT sector on the whole has been reflective of the general economic marketplace, with companies consolidating and keeping a firm eye fixed on the bottom line. Overall there is still a candidate surplus and unless candidates have particular vertical skills it continues to be a tough market."
The consequence of this is clearly reflected in market rates with clients getting more value for money as some IT professionals with strong experience have dropped their rates in order to secure a job.
Rush said the first half of 2002 had seen renewed optimism within the marketplace, with customer relationship management (CRM) projects a significant growth area.
"Many organisations are reviewing their approach to customer management, assisted by the large consultancy houses. This analysis should result in a number of high-profile CRM implementations," he said.
Rush said specialist trends in the marketplace revolved around two main skill sets: SAP and e-commerce.
"There is a great deal of activity within companies that have invested in SAP as CFOs look to get more from their initial investment in SAP or alternative ERP (enterprise resource management) systems. We are seeing an increased demand for skills in this area -- mostly for optimisation migration and upgrade projects."
Meanwhile, e-commerce was highly prevalent with supply chain focused companies -- whether it was transport, logistics or fast-moving consumer goods.
"Companies are realising the benefit of using IT effectively as a business enabler as their bottom line figures improve. Consequently, IT professionals with strong e-commerce skills and specific vertical market experience are highly sought after.
"Another trend that may have a big effect on the marketplace is 'insourcing'. Organisations are realising that by outsourcing the first- and second-line support systems, you have, in effect, removed your internal IT department from your customer and the information is lost when looking at future business requirements.
"A new global trend we are seeing is companies opting for a J2EE solution. The J2EE solution is robust, secure, scalable and, because of its structure, it has in built rules and is therefore highly reusable."
Rush said .Net architecture was being taken very seriously by all industry sectors and was likely to put a strain on available resources as pilot projects get approval and companies look to the market for experience.
He said that within the consultancy market, many IT projects were put on hold due to a period of consolidation towards the end of 2001 which was directly related to the uncertainty in the global economy.
"The emphasis shifted from front to back office, leading to increased opportunities within enterprise resource planning optimisation.
"The rationalisation seen across many industry sectors has led to further opportunities in IT outsourcing. The market has seen increased price competition and this has been reflected in the salaries offered to candidates."
Senior IT manager $120,000-$185,000.
Project manager $80,000-$140,000.
Database administrator $70,000-$110,000.
ERP technical consultant $110,000-$150,000.