Australian ICT jobs market slow but steady: Peoplebank

Peoplebank sees reduced hiring in Queensland and the ACT; stable but cautious job markets elsewhere.

Hiring for information and communications technology jobs across Australia is steady but employers are showing caution, said Peoplebank as the major ICT recruiter announced the results of its quarterly salary index for June 2012.

New hires, especially by contract are flat in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, Peoplebank said. However, hiring has slowed in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, it said.

Queensland hiring levels this month are 20 per cent lower than June last year, while the ACT’s hiring levels are down 40 per cent, Peoplebank said.

While hiring in the other states is steady, employees are proceeding with caution, Peoplebank said.

“For example, employers in Victoria are moving slowly with new hires – taking up to eight weeks to confirm new hires – as they scrutinise the business case for each new hire,” Peoplebank CEO, Peter Acheson said in a statement.

As another example of “defensive” hiring, companies in several states are writing longer contracts to lock in FY 2011-12 rates, Peoplebank said.

Salary levels and contract rates in most states are static, Peoplebank said. There could be some contract rate reductions in Queensland, it said.

A senior business analyst in Melbourne made $140,000 in June 2012, consistent with the previous two quarters. In contrast, the same position in Brisbane made $100,000, down from $125,000 in the March 2012.

Peoplebank said employers across the nation are most demanding project managers, business analysts and contractors with Sharepoint and .NET skills.

“Queensland’s ICT sector is being significantly constrained by the State’s economic challenges,” Peoplebank said. The state government is $85 billion in debt, and the state doesn’t plan to renew up to 40,000 temporary contracts including those of ICT workers, it said. Resources sector activity has helped “cushion” the impact of the government cuts, it said.

In the ACT, a 4 per cent cut in government departmental operating costs and a slowdown in vendor hiring “means there are now highly skilled candidates vying for available roles,” Peoplebank said. As a result, “the last quarter has seen renumeration levels remain static, with some reductions in contract rates including for database administrators and infrastructure engineer roles.”

But it’s not all bad news. The ICT jobs market in NSW is “holding steady,” Peoplebank said. Large banks are hiring slightly more, while public sector investment in ICT has further expanded job options, it said.

Victoria is also steady, but companies are “scrutinising costs, leading to pressure on IT departments to contain costs while generating business efficiencies,” Peoplebank said. There has been “particular demand for candidates with specialist security and cloud-infrastructure skills.”

In Western Australia, employers are writing longer-term contracts to lock in 2012 rates, “which suggests the market is anticipating increase pay pressure and/or skills shortages at the start of the 2012-2013 financial year,” Peoplebank said. Meanwhile, the state government “is pre-empting the market by hiring more senior, skilled contractors capable of delivering major project outcomes.”

Hiring in South Australia takes four to eight weeks “as companies carefully assess each new project or new hire,” Peoplebank said. The public sector is the state’s largest hirer, it said.

“It is likely that these trends will continue into the next quarter, with perhaps a slight increase in net hiring levels after the traditional end-of-financial-year hiring hiatus passes,” Acheson said. “This should be the case in most states, including Canberra.”

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