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Monday, 23 May 2011 15:11

Name your price during skills squeeze


It now takes more than 26 days to hire a new ICT worker - six days longer than a year ago. And where 12 months ago there were on average 7.7 candidates lined up for each position on offer, there are now just 6.8 candidates. Smart candidates should soon be able to name their own price.

Data provided by the IT Contract and Recruitment Association (ITCRA) point to a looming skills squeeze.  According to Julie Mills, CEO of ICTRA, ICT workers should take advantage of the tightening market, brush up their skills to bring them in line with employee demand, and then 'Put a price on yourself.'

She said it was important for would-be job candidates to take a step back and look at what they do today, and how they could, perhaps by taking a training course, ensure their skills matched employer demand.

ITCRA has today launched its SkillsMatch ICT Skills Dashboard which tracks the number of jobs on offer and number of candidates available as recorded by its member recruitment companies. The organisation plans to release the report once a quarter.

Right now ITCRA's data show that demand is greatest for help desk experience, project management, Java,  SQL and Windows. However the top five candidate skills on offer are .com, training, support, email and documentation.

'There is already evidence of a mismatch in skills if you look at the top skills available and the top skills in demand,' which was said Ms Mills, fuelling talk of a skills shortage. But she argued that candidates could skill themselves up, and employers could consider providing more training to new hires, in order to overcome the mismatch which was fuelling talk of a shortage.

The skills mismatch issue could be even more of a challenge once NBN Co's hiring gets into gear. With expectations that the organisation will hire 1,000 staff in the next year, five companies have been selected to manage the telecommunications and IT hiring - namely Clarius (Candle), Interpro, Launch Recruitment, Paxus and Talent International.


Where will NBN skills demand bite? read on

Ms Mills said that at this stage it was not clear the impact of that demand on the overall ICT skills market. 'If they roll out the cable first, then skills won't be an issue. If there are looking for developers then it may be an issue.'

More broadly however she said that as the NBN was rolled out to households there would be additional skills demands on the broader ecosystem - for example help desk operators required to work in NBN retail providers.

The tightening supply of ICT labour ITCRA's data reveal is in line with the economy overall which has seen unemployment trending downwards for the last three quarters according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Unemployment for April stood at 4.9 per cent.

Ms Mills said that ITCRA had been collecting the data behind the newly released dashboard for the last four or five years, but that the results had never been published before. She said in all ITCRA prepared around 40 different reports for its members, which were also made available to particular organisations such as MultiMedia Victoria which used the data for skills forecasting, and the Department of Immigration which had accessed ITCRA data to inform the 457 debate.

Another cut of the ITCRA data has already revealed contracting is becoming more popular. It found that while contracting declined throughout 2010, it jumped over 16 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, accounting for 78 per cent of all recorded placements by ITCRA members.

'We expect that the number of contractors will grow even further in the coming quarter, particularly on the back of the Federal Government's announcement of $770 million in ICT project funding in the recent budget,' Ms Mills said in a media release issued by the organisation.


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