IT platform upgrades by major banks along with the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout, are placing increased pressure on IT skills, according to a new report.
The latest Clarius Skills Index released by recruitment firm, Candle, has indicated Australia is short of 2200 skilled computing professionals required to service the industry. Government requirements are also placing more demand on IT specialists, meaning the shortage will worsen.
The report said a combination of major bank IT projects, the NBN rollout, resource projects and anticipated requirements for carbon tax management systems is expected to put further pressure on both skills and wages demands.
The short fall is despite the supply of computing professionals rising from 188,100 to 195,000 over the quarter, while demand for March quarter rose by 197,000, according to the Skills Index.
Candle executive general manager, Linda Trevor, said the increased demands particularly for specialist IT roles are now being felt across a wide range of industry and government sectors and all indicators are that they will continue to grow.
“It’s not just in the big centres of Sydney and Melbourne. IT professionals continue to be in high demand in the resources boom in Western Australia, increased requirements in Queensland after the floods and cyclones, and delays in security approvals in Canberra where a lot of candidates are now seeking jobs elsewhere,” Trevor said.
“As the commodities boom continues in West Australian companies are prepared to pay above average salaries for the right people to move interstate.
“The skills shortage has also meant that employers are hiring less qualified staff, as well as training existing and junior staff. There has been a growing trend of declining numbers of university placements in IT courses, with female numbers declining in the ACT.”
Trevor also touched on the lack of female applicants across the nation, which is common in IT, and said this will make it difficult for employers to meet the proposed Government rules involving a gender balance in the workforce.
“Salary pressures are also being experienced across the board, with increases being seen in the order of 10 to 20 per cent and in some jurisdictions, such as the ACT, as high as 30 per cent. As demand increases and supply tightens, continued wage increases are likely,” she said.
“In New South Wales and Victoria there is strong demand for professionals in the telecommunications sector as the National Broadband Network continues to staff up key operational areas.
“Ultimately, this project will require skilled workers from overseas (e.g. network engineers) to combat the dwindling supply in Australia as this and other major telecommunications projects compete for the available resources.”
Trevor indicated relaxing the visa rules would assist this cause, as well as the various shortages being experienced across the nation in most industries.
“An increase in the planned level of people to the Skilled Migration Program for 2011/12 is proposed as well as a less regulated process for 457 visa applications particularly for recruitment companies in terms of being able to bring in and on-hire 457 visa holders would help to ensure the progress of major projects,” she said.
“At the moment, recruitment companies are required to pay two per cent of recent payroll expenditure on training for Australian citizens and permanent residents which place an additional burden on hiring activities.”
The disaster recovery effort in Queensland, as well as end of financial year budget spending in the government departments, has led to a greater uptake in skilled IT professionals.
And the increase in project activity in Queensland has caused a shortage of business analyst within the sector.
Victoria has seen a rise in demand for IT workers in the financial services industry.
“In Victoria, we’ve seen a slowing down of business decisions for senior IT roles in the $120,000 plus range across all sectors. The mid-level roles, particularly, on contract side are moving more swiftly to decisions,” she said.
“Retail, investment banking, insurance, superannuation, IT services consulting and utilities are more positive currently with a larger proportion of permanent roles compared to the previous quarter.”