Skills shortage set to restrict Australia's ICT growth in the long term

Business investment at its highest level for 32 years

The skills shortage will be the main restriction to Australia's ICT growth in the long term, according to the latest ICT salary report from Ambition.

While salary increases in the IT sector were the talking point 12 months ago, wage levels have been kept in check by employers wary of creating unsustainable increases as a result of the skills shortage.

Despite this, the ongoing war for talent is deepening with the Australian economy producing two milliion extra jobs in the last decade.

With the economy growing at an average of 3.5 percent and business investment at an annual average rate of 8.4 percent (currently at its highest level for 32 years), there is little reason to believe the skills shortage issue will be resolved anytime soon.

In the banking and finance sector opportunities for candidates in the $100K to $200K continues to grow. Demand for business analysts with banking product knowledge or candidates with niche skills in equity trading are experiencing salary increases upward of 15 percent.

Java remains the dominant technology within investment banks and projects utilising J2EE and C++ for trade flow systems design continuing to grow.

Product knowledge around the futures and options trading systems is also driving substantial wage growth. The latest financial services salary table from Ambition shows program managers earning as much as $150,000 per annum with enterprise architects in the $140,000 range.

IT managers in this vertical are earning between $80,000 and $100,000 while project manager salaries range from $80,000 to $110,000.

Ambition recruitment research has seen significant demand for document management projects focusing on data management and retrieval with companies urged to employ professinals with business intelligience and data warehousing skills to create these complex databases.

While Ambition identifies plenty of IT activity in the federal government with large scale projects being undertaken by Centerlink, Customs and the Australian Tax Office, the NSW government's People First program is also generating plenty of labour market movement.

The latest report from research firm Intermedium shows the federal government will spend $3.36 billion on ICT contracts this year.

According to the Ambition report there is currently a high degree of activity in the vendor market which is being driven by consolidation. Storage has been a strong growth area while security skills are at an absolute premium.

The government sector remains buoyant with demand for infrastructure, IT security and storage specialists. The flow of candidates to and from Australia continues to play a key role in the overally supply levels in the Australian recruitment market.

Ambition sees plenty of candidates in the $50K to $80K space arriving from England, Ireland and Scotland for periods of two to four years providing a valuable resource for the contracting market.

The latest Ambition report also found changes to the 457 visa legislation, which is designed to tighten the intake of temporary skilled migrants, is exacerbating the current skills shortage. Labour hire firms must now use a labour agreement to sponsor these workers, adding another level of administration to the hiring process.

There is also a push to have the 417 (working holiday) visas increased from the current 12 month duration to a minimum of two years.

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