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Thursday, 05 September 2013 23:48

Demand for execs on the rise, but not in IT


The demand for Australian executives has finally risen, gaining 8% in August this year, despite the fact that the demand has been at an historic seven year low. The IT sector, however, was the only area where demand fell during the month.

In its latest report on executive demand, EL Consult says that the general rise in demand in August across all business sectors, with the exception of IT, was the first such rise since February.

According to EL Consult Managing Director, Grant Montgomery, the rise of the off-the-shelf application and other engineered solutions the insourced IT executive role is on the decline.

“Computing is now mostly delivered as complete solutions which are bolted together and customised by the supplier.

“Rather than having pure IT specialists developing bespoke solutions for a particular company we have specialists in finance, engineering and marketing who now come ‘bundled’ with the technological skills and are able to deliver the appropriate digital solutions.

“This is leading to the end of the ‘pure’ IT professional in favour of the ‘applied’ IT professional and it seems to be a long term trend which will continue to result in a decline in the number of IT positions on offer.”

Across all sectors, the EL Demand Index shows that particularly significant this time (in August) is that the main driver of the general upturn in demand was increased private
sector demand, not increased government hiring, “suggesting that business confidence is finally on the mend.”

According to Montgomery, the positive result could be a sign “there is a future for Australian industry outside the mining sector.”

“There are a number of factors that could explain this turn-around in the prospects of middle Australia and they all come down to business confidence.

“In the last month some certainty has emerged as to the type of Federal Government that will be around post-election. For business unpredictability one of the most difficult things to deal with and the prospect of a stable and indeed business focused government helps them to plan strategically and invest in the future.

“Hiring of executives is a long term commitment that requires a degree of certainty in government policy, direction and decision making.

“A second primary driver is the general pickup in the international bourses. That Europe and the USA in particular, are showing signs of a post GFC revival has an immediate impact on business confidence here.

“The international improvement is not only limited to share market improvement with employment and economic growth also showing revival.

“Of course the total demand for executives in Australia is still at 7 year lows so the upturn this month could just be a ‘dead cat bounce’.”

Montgomery says that demand is at such historically low levels that “perhaps this month saw an improvement simply because there was no way to go but up.”

“One month’s figures can be volatile and we need to wait to see if this month’s improvement is the start of something more.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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