Job market's April fall

Last month’s public holidays could herald a change in the recruitment landscape, recruiters say

The IT job market has taken a downturn in the past month, with recruiter indexes reporting decreased demand for both consultants, and professionals with multimedia graphics, Internet and database expertise.

According to the latest Olivier Internet Jobs Index (IJI), which analyses vacancies advertised on Seek, CareerOne and MyCareer, online job advertisements in the IT&T sector fell by a seasonally adjusted figure of 1.71 percent during the month of April.

Advertised vacancies typically fall in April because of the school holidays, Anzac Day, and Easter public holidays. However, Olivier director Robert Olivier, noted that the effect of the holidays appeared to be more prominent this year than in the past seven years.

"It's disappointing and it does surprise me to a degree, because I felt that the market has been consistently reporting growth each month," he said.

Olivier's April findings are in stark contrast to the strong growth reported in the IT recruitment landscape during the past year. The job market is said to have grown 47 percent during the past 12 months, and almost 10 percent during the past three months.

Considering the strength of the market in recent times, Olivier said that the April lull was no cause for alarm, and the 1.71 percent decline "pales into insignificance". He speculated that the decline could in fact be a result of a buoyant industry that is slightly more sensitive to dips in productivity over holiday periods.

"Now that the IT market's momentum is greater, maybe that's why it [the public holiday lull] is showing through greater this time than normally," he said. "In some ways, it's the strength of the market that's meant that this is a negative result."

"It's [the market for IT staff] grown 9.75 percent over the last three months, so it's still running pretty true to form, and I don't think there's any reason why anyone should draw conclusions that the market is coming off at all," he said.

A separate analysis by recruitment agency Best International Group yielded slightly more positive results, reporting a 1.65 percent growth in the IT job market during the month of April.

While the demand for permanent IT staff was strong, Best International's findings revealed a two percent dip in the demand for IT contractors. The decline was led predominantly by a 25 percent fall in the demand for consultants, and an 11 percent fall in the demand for database developers, potentially signalling the beginning of new trends in IT project demand.

"That's an interesting trend because that's suggesting that we may be entering into a new phase of the project lifecycle," said John McVicker, Managing Director of Best International.

"We're heading towards an implementation-type phase," he said. "I think historically we've seen management and sales roles increasing, followed by business analysis and consulting roles, then we saw project management roles increasing, and now we're seeing some implementation roles increasing, particularly in the infrastructure space such as network engineers and network administration-type positions."

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