The Australian IT industry continues to face a skills shortage despite a sustained drop in the jobs market and the axing of hundreds of employees by multinational and local companies.
Industry representative bodies, IT recruitment firms and integrators have also expressed concerns the nation will not be able to supply enough skilled ICT workers once an economic rebound is realised.
The IT job market continued its horror slide in April, with Internet adds falling 7.44 per cent to reach a 12-month crash of 56.05 per cent. The Olivier Job Index also shows job ads across the economy fell 7.43 per cent for a 12-month drop of 49.84. Olivier Group director, Robert Olivier, said that while the rate of decline had fallen – in March the IT job market fell 15 per cent – there was no reason to expect a quick recovery.
“The interesting thing is of that 56 per cent, 44.46 was in the last six months,” he said.
The latest results reflect Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) jobless figures announced in March, which rose 0.4 per cent from 4.8 to 5.2 per cent. Several companies – including HP, Sun Microsystems, Dell, IBM, Telstra, and CA – have cut staff in recent months. Managing director of A/NZ integrator Datacom,
Michael Browne, said the economic downturn, combined with these industry-wide job cuts, helped ease skills shortages in the short-term.
“We’re certainly seeing an availability of skills freeing up. In Canberra, for example, we have secured a large new client and are recruiting people with a lot of success,” he said. “Even in our application development group, where we are picking up business despite the conditions, we’re getting people.”
Browne claimed the merger of HP and EDS, along with Sun’s recent staff cuts, was releasing higher calibre people into the market.
“I also think the break-up of the Group 8 contracts is bringing people into the market who wouldn’t otherwise be available,” he said.
Data#3 general manager, Laurence Baynham, hadn’t heard the term “skills shortage” for some time, but said high-end and specialist skills, such as applications development and SAP, were still in demand.
While agreeing the downturn eased the skills shortage situation, ASG managing director, Geoff Lewis, said the ASX-listed services provider continued to source IT skills from offshore, particularly around middleware, operating systems and database management.