Asia grabs spotlight for IT jobs

Asia is taking over from the UK and US as the most popular destination forAustralia's mobile IT professionals, according to recruitment agencies.

Joshua Sparks, IT director at the Robert Walters agency, said Asia has anongoing shortage of skilled, experienced IT staff while the rest of the worldis experiencing a drop in demand due to a global economic slowdown.

While Asia is not immune to the global slowdown, according to Sparks, thereremains underlying demographic reasons to suggest the shortage will persist fora while yet.

Sparks said Australian IT professionals had traditionally headed to the US andUK because they could earn bigger pay packets and had the chance to work withleading-edge technologies.

"Increasingly they are setting their sights on Asia where they can earn acomparative or superior salary, pay substantially less tax and gain valuableinternational experience," he said.

Sparks said Australia was at risk of a new brain drain to its Asian neighbourswith Australian IT professionals particularly attracted to Hong Kong, Tokyo andSingapore.

However, Guy Davy, divisional manager IT&T at Integrated Recruitment, agreedAsia is more of an option than it used to be, but said it is still far frompredominant, with the consultancy's candidates still asking for jobs in London.

Davy said Asia may not be the best option, particularly with the languagebarriers, and believes people would prefer to go to the other side of the worldincluding UK, Europe and US, than Asia as it is more of an "adventure".

However, Michelle Canty, manager of TMP executive resourcing -- internationalcareers team, at TMP Worldwide (formerly Morgan & Banks), also agrees that Asiais more in demand at the moment as "that is where the work is".

Canty said there is now less demand in the US and UK as they are pushingtowards permanent placings as opposed to contract work, which doesn't suitAustralians wanting to go there for a "stint" on contract.

Canty said the US is not offering as much sponsorship as it used to, so it isharder to go and work than it has been.

"The biggest demand we would see for Asia is people who have the languageskills -- people of Asian origin that are born and bred in Australia andreturning to Asia. Or, Aussies with no language skills, and going to derive taxbenefits," she said.

Sparks said it is not hard to see why Australian IT professionals are beginningto flock Asia, with Hong Kong now an "international experimental hotbed for newbusiness and technologies, and the most liberal market economy in the world".

"In Singapore, there is an enormous amount of government spending on theinfrastructure required for start-up technology companies. And in Japan, withinthe otherwise struggling international telcos market for example, DoCoMo isleading the world in third-generation mobile computing," Sparks said.

He said Australia was now providing more than its fair share of the skilledlabour to countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, and added that,with the comparatively low salaries offered here, Australia also has to beconsidered not merely an excellent sourcing ground for talent, but also alow-cost centre for IT projects.

"I wouldn't be surprised if companies start to ramp up the outsourcing of ITprojects to Australia. It would be highly cost effective," Sparks said.

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