Salaries rise in fight to retain staff

The 2005 Hays IT survey has found salaries are again on the rise for IT staff, with 42 percent of organizations in the survey increasing salaries for IT staff by 3 to 6 percent.

But do not expect salary levels to increase across the board. According to Hays, the salary increases over the past 12 months have been constrained due to certain skill shortages. But it is not higher salaries that are pushing candidates to permanent roles, but the promise of career progression for the right candidate.

The big winners in terms of salary increases were specific LAN and WAN support roles. .Net and J2EE professionals are in high demand in Perth, and analyst programmers are in high demand across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Hays see three areas creating a positive landscape for information technology workers - renewed investment - such as last seen pre-Y2K, in IT due to a cyclical trend; companies have realized systems and capabilities will give them a competitive advantage and global economic conditions have pushed confidence in IT investment.

Hays Information Technology general manager Peter Noblet said employers are becoming more realistic about skills shortages, and to attract and retain the right person the focus so far has been on benefits or career progression rather than offering dramatic salary increases for hard-to-find roles.

"We can only caution that pressure on salaries is still likely to occur, but with a longer lead time and possibly to a more restrained extent than in previous cycles," Noblet said.

"The pressure is now increasingly on employers and recruiters alike to adjust their approach to potential candidates and be more proactive in their recruitment efforts.

"In light of skills shortages, employers should consider a candidate's potential, not just their experience as a candidate with less experience than the employers' initial prerequisite can, after training, thoroughly perform the role's requirements and are a viable option to consider."

Noblet said as employers increase their efforts to recruit staff they will also attempt to retain staff, adding that they expect to see an increase in counter-offers in the next 12 months.

Ambition IT recruitment director Jane Bianchini said the market now is reminiscent of the late 90s and confirmed that salary increases for .Net, Java and J2EE were predicted by CIOs and technology directors last year.

Bianchini said these developers are now getting lucrative sign-on cash incentives to lure them away from current employers.

"ICT professionals, particularly in Web and application development, have benefited from healthy increases in their rate or salary as their employers compete to retain their intellectual capital," Bianchini said.

"Many CIOs and technology directors are prepared for these increases as they sought budget approvals for this [purpose], with many fearing if they didn't plan for it [rate hikes], there would be a greater cost to the business of not getting projects and initiatives completed on time."

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