How is the IT job market in Australia doing?
If one asks recruitment firm MitchelLake managing director, Mike Page, it is actually doing quite well.
While financial uncertainty in regions such as the US and Europe has meant people are fearful of losing their job, Page says that the combination of the increase in online activity at a consumer level and the general strength of the economy compared to other markets is fuelling a lot of activity in the Australian job space.
“Things are changing rapidly, but it is a very buoyant time,” he said.
However, he admits that the globalisation of talent, where people are using sites such as Freelancer.com to get IT solutions and build their company of the back of these platforms, is adding another layer of complexity to the discussion.
When it comes to supply vs. demand, Page says that demand is outstripping supply in Australia, though it “depends on which areas that you look at.”
“The areas that we cover, which is principally the online economy and the start-up space, there is definitely more demand than supply,” he said.
“We have seen some significant changes in the market over the last 18 months, and one of them is the increase in consumer behaviour in the online environment.”
Page attributes this shift to people becoming more accustomed to purchasing online and no longer being just “viewers” of online activity.
“The Australian population has always been known as early adopters of technology, and we have a high level of smartphone usage here,” he said.
“So we have adapted to the online environment quite well.”
What that has meant is that there is now an increase in demand in traditional verticals, such as retail and travel, for the development of the online channel.
In turn, development of those channels has meant that there is an increased need for people to develop those platforms and e-commerce engines.
“It is also being fuelled by the large enterprises within traditional verticals such as retail and banking,” Page said.
He adds that as recently as three years ago, their technology footprint was based more around infrastructure and desktop management.
“Now the move is towards the emerging online channel,” he said.
While Australia has made leaps and bounds, Page still feels we are “playing catch-up” to other markets such as Europe in some areas, though he sees this as being good for the local IT workforce.
“That is fuelling some of the boom we’re experiencing at the moment,” he said.
According to Page, Australia seems to be two or three years behind markets such as the UK, especially in online retail.
“Online retail in the UK is typically running at a significantly higher percentage than it is here, and that has been fuelling a lot of the noise we have heard from the major retail groups about the online position,” he said.
“This has included the talks about GST payments that filter through when we purchase goods and services from overseas.”
Those are some of the factors that Page sees fuelling some of the change, and when one goes down to a granular level, a “huge increase” in a number of key disciplines across the IT talent spectrum is emerging.
One of those growth areas is data analytics, where the journey and behaviour of a customer on a web site is being closely scrutinised.
“People who can look at the customer journey and use the latest analytics tools, and instead of being just the number crunchers in the corner, there is now a need for them to do the analysis and take the results to the marketing group,” Page said.
“Data analytics is very buoyant at the moment, and there’s a shortage of really good people who can do both the analytics and the insight side of that.”