IT hiring frenzy remains steady: Morgan & Banks

Local enterprises are continuing to employ more IT staff than ever before, according to the quarterly Morgan & Banks Job Index released today.

According to the survey, 52.7 per cent of organisations with more than 200 employees intend to increase staff levels over the upcoming quarter. Almost 11 per cent are planning to downsize, mainly as a result of the completion of year 2000 projects Matthew Gordon, NSW state manager, Morgan & Banks Technology, said.

Gordon said since companies increased IT staff to cope with Y2K projects 12 to 24 months ago, staff levels have remained steady and any downsizing had not resulted in staff numbers declining to what they were previously.

"It's fairly consistent . . .on the previous quarter it's down because figures got ramped beyond normal levels . . .but there is still a case where [companies are employing] more people than they ever had done," he said.

Gordon said based on figures from the Job Index as well as industry factors including Y2K , Morgan & Banks expects the industry to "settle for a couple of months".

By April, companies will begin ramping up staff levels for GST related projects and developments that were put on hold over the last 12 months, he said.

Gordon said some companies, especially those looking for e-commerce and internet-based skills may be affected by the industry skills shortage, but there may be a "significant amount of job shifting".

"The average life span in IT is two to three years. There is a great deal of movement and there is still a good amount of labour coming from Europe," Gordon said.

Companies will also have to be more flexible in their approaches to staff skills, he said.

He added a "reasonably substantial" number of local IT professionals are moving offshore as a result of attractive salary and benefit packages and relaxed US greed card regulations.

The survey also discovered for the first time since Job Index began in April 1995, the number of temporary and contractors hired by companies is expected to decrease.

"A massive 19 per cent" of firms intend to decrease their use of contractors, the survey said.

Companies are increasing permanent IT staff and decreasing contractors in order to reduce costs, and capitalise on intellectual capabilities and internal knowledge base, Gordon said.

However, as a response to increased adoption of outsourcing, IT organisations are expected to increase contractors, he said.

For further information on the Morgan & Banks Job Index see Computerworld, Friday, 29 October, 1999, page 3.

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