The employment market survey by Clicks IT Recruitment also shows that employers are more mindful of the importance of retaining staff and business in general has a bullish sales outlook for 2017.
According to Clicks, 2017 will be one of the most positive on record, boosted by what appears to be a “reversal of the long-term reliance on offshore staffing”.
And, the survey reveals that five times as many respondents (15%) plan to bring offshore IT services and functions back to Australia than the 3% of businesses who will increase the IT “brain drain”.
Just 11% of respondents in the survey are now a sponsor of the 457 programme compared to 18% last year.
Ben Wood, managing director of Clicks, said 2016 proved to be a buoyant one for business, with confidence showing up in the current report where 49% of respondents expect to increase sales in 2017.
“As a result, more money will be spent on IT in 2017. With one-third of our respondents budgeting more for staff, it’s the most positive outlook we’ve seen for many years,” Wood said.
With contractors most in demand, Clicks says that permanent staffing numbers are expected to decrease slightly, by 4%.
Open-source related technologies is where demand continues to outstrip supply, according to Clicks, which includes Angular JS, full stack and front-end developers, and software engineers.
“Project management is the IT role in highest demand, which makes sense as 2016 saw a spike in jobs for business analysts,” Wood says.
“This indicates a healthy pipeline of IT projects.
“IT developers with strong design skills, and digital/data specialists, should also have little trouble finding work.”
And, the survey reveals that for the first time since 2011 there was an increase in the number of organisations committing to a graduate program for IT staff.
“It is encouraging to see this as we believe graduates with IT degrees should be an essential component in all technology departments,” Wood said.
On the whole, turnover of IT staff in Australia is low, with 79% of respondents reporting it to be 10% or less and Clicks says that redundancies over the next 12 months are expected to fall sharply, “further consolidating stable employment”.
Clicks says flexible working hours continue to be considered the most effective way of retaining staff, followed by an ability to work remotely, with both more highly valued by workers than salary and performance bonuses.
“While there is greater demand for staff, and budgets are increasing, our survey did find one anomaly – slow wage growth,” said Wood said.
“We expect average salary increases this year to be contained to below 2%. While low wage growth is widely reported across many sectors, it is unusual when IT has such obvious ‘hot spots’. We have noticed hirers becoming more flexible with the level of skill they expect though: if you hire someone who is 12 months away from your ideal skill level they will obviously have a lower salary. This may go some way to explaining the softer growth figures.”