Shorter ICT contract jobs more popular: Tech Index

Index also found increasing uncertainty in job prospects for ICT contractors

Shorter contract jobs are predicted to become more popular with employers in the ICT industry, according to the latest Longhaus-ITCRA Australian Tech Index.

The Index draws on information the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the Australian Stock Exchange and ITCRA’s SkillsMatch Data.

ITCRA CEO Julie Mills said shorter ICT job contracts are predicted to be more popular because they are seen to be less of a “risk” to organisations.

“I think it’s a bit of a tread water base at the moment where nobody really wants to take a risk on long-term contracts. But the feedback we are getting, even though they are using three- and six-month contracts, is that these are being renewed,” she said.

“I think the other part of it is that many of the governments particularly are… hiring short term to finish projects that have been caught up in some of the reviews where they are looking at their spend.”

Longhaus managing director Peter Carr said he sees opportunity for contractors in ICT business analyst and planning roles.

“We’ll see the business analyst role continue to be popular and they’ll probably pick up first,” he said.

“What we tend to find is that it takes a little while for the ICT industry to get its momentum back up again because we need to go through this process of strategy development, planning, assessment of business requirements and options, and then we put in funding proposals, and then the funding gets released by the boards. All this could take six months, 12 months, 18 months so I actually think that those kind of planning roles for the next 12 months will be very important.”

The Index also found there is increasing uncertainty in job prospects for ICT contractors. According to a poll of 50 senior decision makers, which included CIOs, there was an increase of 10 per cent of organisations looking to slightly decrease their number of ICT contractors.

Mills said job cuts to government ICT contractors have contributed to uncertainty in the industry. “The Queensland government has cut almost all of its ICT contractors, [and] the Victorian government and New South Wales government has reviewed their ICT contractors. That creates uncertainty because governments are the largest employer in the ICT space."

However, Carr said that the ICT job industry is moving in cycles and expects employment to pick up in 2013.

“It’s certainly not boom times for IT, but it’s certainly not all doom and gloom as it was back in 2009. I think the uncertainty is really driven by a lot of other factors in the broader economy…

“These things move in cycles and I think we are reaching the end of this flat to down linear aggression that we’ve been in. But it’ll turn.”

Julie pointed out that new projects to come out of the NBN and e-health government initiative will help boost ICT jobs.

“With the NBN comes a whole lot of other stuff, along with new infrastructure developments like the rollout of the new e-health platform. Technology jobs will flow from that,” she said.

“There’s always going to be a need now for IT support, IT development, IT maintenance in these areas and it will just depend on how much people are prepared to invest at the infrastructure level before the jobs roll out.

“The investment in stuff that will sustain our global positioning in the Internet space and cloud, and all that sort of stuff, is definitely going to continue. Whether this continues at the pace that’s needed to keep us ahead or in market place is yet to be determined.”

Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett

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1 Comment

Enigmatic

1

What I find interesting is the fact the article overlooked the termination clause. Even in long term contracts, there is generally a 2-4 week termination clause by either party. With this in mind, why would companies be afraid of long term contracts?

What I find more interesting is the mentality that companies have during those times when they involve this clause. When they are the ones invoking it, "its just business" is usually the rhetoric. If the contractor is the one invoking, "how can you do this to me? I thought we were friends, you have left us in the lurch".

So I don't have any problem with long term contracts, and if companies are shying away from them then they need to remove the termination clause as clearly it should be a system by which one HONORS their agreements, and not cuts them short or has an "out" if they need to (accept for extreme circumstances of course).

The fact is, contracts should be for as long as they feasibly need to go. If the person is doing ongoing work, then year contracts are more appropriate, if the contract is job specific then it should match the length of the anticipated cycle. There will always be the initial "3 month" period, which is always considered the settling phase, but after that the contract should be appropriate to the work. Having a fear of length in total isolation of what the job requires is just stupid!

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