Stronger job numbers and firming salary levels so far this year together with the latest statistical data point to a resurgence in the IT sector.
The Hays IT Personnel 2004 salary survey out last week shows salary increases as high as 10 percent combined with solid demand for skills in emerging technologies like voice over IP.
While the Department of Employment and Relations (DEWR) job index shows that although vacancies rose only 0.8 percent in May, overall vacancies in the ICT sector have increased a whopping 68.9 percent over the last 12 months.
Generally, vacancies for skilled workers slipped 0.4 percent in May, but the biggest rise was in ICT - up 7.1 percent.
This is great news for the industry and correlates with Computerworld's online poll earlier this month which asked readers about salary status.
Nearly 70 percent said salaries had increased, with a further 10 percent claiming they experienced marginal increases this year.
With IT is in the midst of a Y2K-driven refresh cycle and the quiet days of the post-dotcom meltdown becoming more distant, jobs numbers and salaries appear to be making a comeback.
The Hays survey cites a desire “to gain real value from any IT investment” as a strong impetus for staff demands, with business analytics fuelling overall jobs growth.
Law firm MinterEllison's technology director Martin Telfer agrees there is a rise in demand for business analytics and puts it down to companies wanting to see more value out of IT for the overall business.
"But I'm surprised [Hays] hasn't mentioned security," Telfer said. "There is still a high demand for IT security positions because there are viruses going around exploiting various vulnerabilities - and the gap between identification and exploitation is shortening. These are very real threats to an organization's business."
Telfer's general feeling about the IT jobs market is optimistic as "people are starting to move".
"A year ago the Seek jobs e-mail had three or four positions a week for IT project managers [or equivalent] and now I'm seeing eight to 10 a week," he said. "This shows that the market is picking up."
MinterEllison is recruiting IT staff and says there is strong interest from people already employed.
"We have a few vacancies and have had a good response from people wanting to move jobs," Telfer told Computerworld. "This is a good sign if you're an employer as it shows people are starting to take risks again."
While Telfer said salaries are not "stellar", they are certainly on the up.
"Salaries have increased by 4 to 5 percent depending on who you talk to, but there is a gradual movement upwards," he said. "There has been something of a salary freeze over the past couple of years, particularly for the younger crowd who have also taken lower paying roles in many cases."
On certification, Telfer said employers - now more than ever - look for "real experience", rather than "just a piece of paper".
Hays’ manager of IT recruitment, Ben Trigg, said although there is a “huge” upturn in vacancies, IT pros should remain realistic as to what they can do.
“Flexibility is most important and try to keep the skill level up,” Trigg said. “Salaries tend to be more constant than positions, and have increased between 5 and 10 percent over the year.”
Skills that are hot
The strongest job opportunities in the short term are VoIP engineers, business intelligence analysts and developers.
The Hays report said there is demand for skilled, methodology-driven developers with skills in either J2EE or .Net, but there is a lack of candidates with an understanding of methods in these technologies. In fact a rising job market and increased demand are creating candidate shortages, according to Hays IT general manager Peter Noblet. "We expect demand over the short to medium term will place pressure on employers to implement strategies to attract candidates and to increase salary levels to recruit and retain the best talent," he said.
The telcommunications industry is experiencing a renaissance, a definite sign of an industry upturn. Contracting is also booming with senior project roles gaining momentum. Feedback from vendor and service organizations in the survey revealed that buying signals from major clients are strong.
The Hays IT survey covers 1700 respondents from SME to large multinational organizations across Australia and New Zealand.
What are you worth?
Service delivery manager: $100,000-150,000
Development manager: $80,000-110,000
IT manager: $80,000-130,000
Network manager: $80,000-130,000
Systems analyst: $80,000-110,000
Project manager: $77,000-110,000
Programmer (.Net/J2EE): $60,000-85,000
Unix administrator: $65,000-85,000
Source: Hays IT Personnel 2004 salary survey