10-year IT refresh projects strengthen hiring

It's been a decade since Y2K and the GST's introduction and major banks and enterprises are conducting major core upgrades, boosting ICT hiring

ICT employment has dodged the negative effects of a soft economy due to banks and enterprises taking on 10-year technology refresh projects, according to Peoplebank chief executive, Peter Acheson.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia, Acheson said despite a drop off in other markets, most notably retail and manufacturing, the ICT jobs market remained strong in terms of hiring.

“IT continues to become more ubiquitous and important as a core enabler for businesses and it’s very much linked to innovation and competitive advantage,” Acheson said. “There isn’t a business process that IT doesn’t underpin today.”

He cited investments in major software and hardware upgrades as a key driver, with many major companies and banks, including NAB and CBA, spending billions of dollars overhauling their core IT infrastructure.

“We’re 10 years out from Y2K and GST, which were two very big initiatives driving new software and so a lot of companies are doing substantial upgrading of systems and platforms some of which date back to then.”

According to Acheson, there has been a small swing toward hiring contractors over the last few months, which reflects some caution on the part of CIOs following the poor economic results of the fourth quarter.

“They’re keeping the projects going and making sure the work continues but just in case rather than hiring this person as a full time employee, I’ll hire them as a contractor so I think there’s been a little bit of that.”

The much discussed skills shortage is set to continue with markets in Perth, Canberra and South Australia having already “tightened considerably”, Acheson said. He expects Sydney and Melbourne to follow suit by Christmas with demand for IT workers exceeding supply.

Acheson urges those looking for work to be flexible in the roles they choose and to be rigorous in searching for work, using word-of-mouth referral where possible.

“One of the things about IT that makes it challenging for people is the constant change in platforms and new versions of software and hardware which is constantly being upgraded,” he said. “You’ve got to keep pace with that and keeping your technical skills and accreditations up to date.”

The recent Clarius Skills Index [[artnid:395563|revealed an overall drop in demand for skilled labour, due to concerns about the US and Europe and weak domestic consumer confidence.

Clarius Group chief operating officer, Kym Quick, said employers were erring on the side of conservatism.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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