Skilled ICT professional shortage figure plummets

New national workforce report shows rates have worsened by about 50 per cent

The shortage of skilled Australian ICT professionals has plummeted by about 50 per cent, according to contracting and recruitment services specialist, the Clarius Group (ASX: CND).

In its latest Clarius Skills Index, the report showed an 'extreme' shortage of 8258 ICT professionals in the June quarter, as compared to a shortage of 5500 workers in the March quarter.

This resulted in the index moving from 102.6 to 103.8.

According to the company, this has resulted in Australian companies favouring permanent employment to snare top talent as opposed to contract employment, or opting to hire from overseas.

But it also mentioned new technologies – like Cloud computing, mobile development, information management and business intelligence – that are draining existing skill pools, coupled with diminishing university enrolments will further accelerate the shortage.

Clarius executive general manager, Linda Trevor, said while some markets were slightly depressed, there appears to be a general move to ramp up IT investment.

"Permanent recruiting and fixed term contracts in ICT are on the increase signalling that businesses are feeling more positive and moving forward.

“Another positive indicator is that opportunities are arising in the business analyst and project management space, which means projects are being scoped in preparation for implementation," she said.

Clarius claimed opportunities lie in IT compliance, as global trading increases and security becomes a bigger issue. However, it said SAP, data warehousing and networking positions remain hard to fill as experienced candidates are generally located overseas.

Trevor added over the past two years, many businesses are urging their employees to take on more responsibility following staff freezes and cut-backs.

"Given the scrutiny on staff numbers, employers are increasingly asking about a candidate's communication skills, not just their IT skills, because they want them to contribute more broadly to the business," she said.

Other findings from the study include:

  • On the candidate side, workers are looking for new opportunities that provide a more interesting job challenge as opposed to just chasing the money.
  • Demand has been strong in the technical arena, but flat at the top end for project management and ICT managers.
  • The Victorian market has been unstable and some projects have stalled creating a cautious employment approach involving longer decision making and testing during recruitment.
  • The WA market remains focused on permanent recruitment as organisations lock in long term talent. Candidates are still requesting higher rates due to the lack of suitably skilled local candidates.
  • Demand in SA has remained steady with shortages in developers, but an oversupply of business analysts, IT managers and technicians – particularly in the government sector.
  • Contract rates have dropped by up to 10 per cent in Queensland, following the move by the new government to shed a number of contracting staff.
  • In NSW, conditions remain stable with fixed-term contracts remaining a trend.