2016 was a great year for IT staff across Australia, but the future looks more promising, according to Clicks IT Recruitment.
Recent findings from specialist recruitment company's 20th annual survey on the health of the Australian IT industry found that demand for IT professionals is at an historic high, with employers being more mindful of the importance of retaining staff, and business in general having a bullish sales outlook for 2017.
“Looking to the future, this year’s report shows that a continued demand for experienced IT Staff is expected during 2017, with the main measures of market strength showing historic highs,” Clicks IT Recruitment managing director, Ben Wood, said.
Each year, Clicks IT Recruitment analyses the strength of the IT staffing market by surveying more than 400 organisations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. Those surveyed come from a variety of industry sectors, including government, education, banking, financial services, IT, health, retail, telecommunications, manufacturing, transport and resources.
The report predicts that 2017 will be one of the most positive on record for the sector, boosted by what it says is a reversal of the long-term reliance on offshore staffing. It showed that five times as many respondents (15 per cent) plan to bring offshore IT services and functions back to Australia than the three per cent of businesses that said will increase onshore dependency.
A further boost for local IT job prospects is the decline in temporary 457 visas that allow overseas workers up to four years’ employment at an approved Australian business. This is established from the 11 per cent of respondents in the Clicks survey as a sponsor of the program compared to the 18 per cent last year.
Wood added that 49 per cent of respondents, from 2016, expect to increase sales in 2017.
“As a result, more money will be spent on IT in 2017. With one-third of our respondents budgeting more for staff, it’s the most positive outlook we’ve seen for many years,” he said.
In addition, the study found that contractors are most in demand, with half of the respondents aiming to increase or maintain their use of non-permanent labour. Permanent staffing numbers are expected to decrease slightly, by four per cent since last year, according to the firm.
Meanwhile, open-source related technology is where demand continues to outstrip supply, the study found. This includes Angular JS, full stack and front-end developers, and software engineers.
“Project management is the IT role in highest demand, which makes sense as 2016 saw a spike in jobs for business analysts. This indicates a healthy pipeline of IT projects. IT developers with strong design skills, and digital/data specialists, should also have little trouble finding work,” Wood said.
Other findings from the study include:
- An increase in the number of organisations committing to a graduate program for IT staff since 2011.
- A low turnover of IT staff in Australia, with 79 per cent of respondents reporting turnover to be 10 per cent or less.
- Redundancies over the next 12 months are expected to fall sharply, further consolidating stable employment.
- Flexible working hours is the most effective way of retaining staff, followed by an ability to work remotely. Both are more highly valued by workers than salary and performance bonuses.
- Average salary increases this year to be contained to below two per cent.
“While there is greater demand for staff, and budgets are increasing, our survey did find one anomaly – slow wage growth. While low wage growth is widely reported across many sectors, it is unusual when IT has such obvious ‘hot spots’," Wood said.
Clicks IT recruitment recently also found that data scientist jobs are some of such “obvious hot spots”.