Developer shortage stalling Web projects, lines coders' pockets

Salaries up for PHP, .NET gurus

A severe shortage of local Web application developers is making it increasingly difficult for companies to hire staff for eBusiness and Web-based projects. Meanwhile, the lucky few with relevant skills are netting in correspondingly healthy salary packages, claims one IT recruitment agency.

PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS, AJAX, XML and .NET are prominent among the advertisements littering online job boards of late. A number of large organizations, including Yahoo7 and SBS Television have been advertising job vacancies for a good six weeks and much longer in some cases.

That's a long time for a position to be unfilled, according Allen Russell of Asia-Pacific IT recruitment agency Xpand, which is currently recruiting for Yahoo7.

"There is a definite skill shortage in the whole development landscape and that ranges from PHP right up to .NET technologies," he said. "We're looking at different channels to identify people, but they're all very gainfully employed at the moment, so it makes it difficult when there's not enough supply of candidates to meet the demand our clients are asking us to fill for them."

While Xpand typically fulfills its recruitment contracts within three weeks, Russell said, recent Web development positions, of which the company has received almost 60 in the past quarter, have taken up to eight weeks to fill.

"You're looking at potentially double and beyond the timeframe in being able to identify these people," he said, "and we're just one organization, so you can imagine the enormity of the marketplace if there are potentially 200 IT recruitment businesses in the NSW market alone."

Starving recruiters translates to generous returns for those in demand. For PHP developers, Russell reported average wages of up to $60 per hour through a recruitment agency, and up to $80 per hour from employers directly.

.NET has also been a frequent demand of employers of late, especially with financial services and e-businesses turning to the technology for online transaction systems. But most roles require a range of Web development skills that extend beyond any single technology, he said.

Besides character and personality traits that recommend candidates to a cultural fit in the organization, employers often look for knowledge in "everything from graphics applications - like Flash, Photoshop, Fireworks - to other codes beyond PHP like HTML, XHTML and CSS", Russell said.

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