Skills drought pays off for IT pros

Salaries rise nearly 15 percent

Security professionals, applications developers and financial database experts can expect the highest salary increases over the next 12 months according to the Ambition Technology Market Trends Report - Summer 2007, a survey of salary and contract rate figures of some 370 IT professionals nationwide.

Overall, salaries for IT professionals increased 12 per cent when compared to the same period last year. Rates for contractors increased overall as well, as did the average length of the contract.

An application development manager is on an estimated salary of between $95,000 and $220,000 per annum, a 15 per cent increase compared to 12 months ago. Both security and storage professionals are now earning between $100,000 and $180,000 per annum, a salary increase of between 10 and 15 per cent.

According to the report Australian employers are looking overseas to fill the domestic drought as not enough skilled Australians are coming through the IT ranks, according to Andy Cross, managing director of technology recruitment firm Ambition.

Cross said he cannot confirm if the government is hoarding all the labour resources but demand for security professionals continues to be positive. The number of compliance programs growing in the financial sector means a lot of these skills are snapped up at higher prices in the private sector.

"Government is not comparable with the private sector, and fortunately, contractors are mercenary when it comes to dollars," Cross said.

"At the moment many companies are looking overseas to source personnel, albeit these people are trying to target specific industry sector experience but the number of compliance programs growing in the financial sector is not making it an easier path to find these people and they are often snapped up at higher rates than government projects can afford.

"Anecdotally I can say application development experts are at the top end of the rate increase at around 15 percent in the past 12 months and given the continued shortage of IT candidates it is a surprise the increase is not greater. I think it comes down to the fact clients are trying to source people in Australia and not push offshore, but it is getting to a pointy end ... Employers are looking for a specific skill set and cannot find it, yet don't appear to be hugely investing in training - it is a full circle problem we have got."

Cross said full-time salaries and contractor rates will continue to increase higher than other industry sectors unless supply and demand of capable staff in Australia is addressed. Cross said this will come to a head in 3-5 years.

According to the report, Australian businesses are actively trying to source skilled IT labour externally, with the number of 457 Visas (temporary skilled migration) into Australia numbering 58,140 within the first ten months of 2006.

The skills in highest demand were Java, PHP, .Net and development management. In the security space those with a data protection focus (such as antivirus, spyware or security developers) and business continuity, disaster recovery and backup skills attracted an average 12 per cent salary or rate increase. Those with an SAP or Oracle background are also in high demand.

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