Employers Expect More Jobs for IT Staff

New Zealand employers say that of additional hires expected over the next year, 20 percent will be in computer/IT positions. This is despite recent media coverage highlighting the country's "brain drain" overseas.

These are the findings of the latest Morgan & Banks Job Index survey.

The survey showed that about 30 percent of employers said they had lost IT professionals to overseas opportunities.

This trend was most pronounced for upper North and lower North Island employers (31.2 percent and 36.8 percent respectively) and least likely for South Island employers (22.7 percent).

It appears IT professionals from certain industries are more likely to pursue overseas opportunities than other professionals. Between 40 percent and 60 percent of employers from the following industries indicated they had lost staff over the past 12 months: information technology, media, resources and telecommunications.

However, despite this negative finding, the New Zealand IT industry is optimistic about its employment prospects. With the exception of the government sector, all New Zealand industries are upbeat about employment in the future. Particularly high levels of optimism were reflected in the following sectors: electronics (a net effect of 50 percent); information technology (47.1 percent); chemical (36.4 percent); telecommunications (36 percent); and media (26.7 percent).

Employers interviewed also said about 20 percent of increases in hiring expectations will be computer/IT positions.

The survey also drew attention to the year 2000 (Y2K) problem. The majority of employers (69.7 percent) indicated that completion of Y2K projects will not impact on their current levels of staff.

The result suggests that employers have addressed the problem using existing staff, or contract staff engaged to work on Y2K have completed their assignments or are being retained by the organizations post-Y2K.

The survey highlighted the fact that Internet usage is widespread in the New Zealand industry, with over 85 percent of employers indicating that employees have Internet access while only 10.5 percent said they did not.

Chief Executive Officer of Morgan & Banks Alistair Sutherland says there were variations in Internet access according to the kind of industry in which the person is employed. Telecommunications led the pack with 96 percent access followed by information technology (91.9 percent) and then by financial services (91.7 percent).

"Internet access appears to be relatively unrelated to the size of the organization with small, medium and large enterprises indicating similar access rates," says Sutherland.

The highest rate of access appears to be in the lower North Island (90.4 percent), followed by the upper North Island (86.6 percent) and then South Island (80.5 percent).

Other key findings for the survey include:

* Over one-third (33.8 percent) of the New Zealand employers interviewed said they plan to increase permanent staff numbers, while only 14.2 percent plan to decrease staffing levels. This has resulted in a half-yearly net effect of 19.6 percent.

* This is the highest recorded level since the Job Index was first released in May 1997 and contrasts with employers' outlook this time last year when optimism was at an all-time low (a net effect of only 1.3 percent for the July 98 quarter).

* Levels of optimism are still highest in the South Island which recorded a net optimism of 22.7 percent.

* The government sector was the only one to return a (slightly) pessimistic outlook (a net effect of -2.1 percent).

* Results for large business employers (22-plus staff) show a strong swing to optimism that has not been evident since the survey began. This half-yearly net effect of 8 percent is 11.6 percentage points higher than last survey's negative net effect of -3.7 percent.

The findings for the six-monthly survey combined the expectations of over 1500 key employment decision makers, from major industries across the spectrum of different organization sizes.

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