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Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:25

Strong employment outlook for ICT contractors Featured

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The trend for employers to hire ICT contractors rather than permanent employees continues, with the latest report on Australia’s jobs market revealing that the ICT sector has the strongest contract employment outlook of all professions.

In its latest quarterly socio-economic report on employer hiring intentions, recruitment company Hudson says that those intentions in the ICT sector to take on more staff are up by 2.0% points to 29.4%.

The increase in hiring intentions in the ICT sector compares with national figures among Australian organisations in all business and industry sectors for contractor staff, which have risen by just 0.7pp to 19.1%, while intention to maintain current contractor headcounts is up 1.2pp to 69.0% and intentions to decrease contractor headcount dropping by 1.9pp to 11.9%.

Director ICT at Hudson, Tim Davis, says the Q2 2014 figures for the ICT sector mark the third consecutive quarter that the sector has had the strongest intention to hire contractor staff.

“What is really driving demand in IT right now is business transformation projects. Organisations are using innovations in technology to identify ways to reduce costs or increase revenue, which goes a long way towards explaining these results.

“ICT is now integral to almost all major project considerations that an organisation undertakes. Regardless of whether an initiative originates from marketing, finance or elsewhere within the business, IT will invariably be used to develop capabilities or reduce costs as part of it.”

Davis says this is also the first time in recent years that intention to hire ICT contract staff (29.4%) is higher than intentions to hire permanent ICT employees, which are down 3.6pp to 25.2%. According to Davis there are three main factors influencing this result.

“Project work is always a primary driver for contractor demand and the continued investment in business transformation projects across the country is one key demand generator for contract IT professionals.

“The forthcoming May Federal Budget is also likely to be having an influence on permanent hiring strategies, with organisations utilising contract workers until the Budget delivers greater clarity on where to invest in permanent talent.

“Organisations are also being more cautious in their hiring procedures, making sure they make the right hire. The decision process for making a hire has lengthened, with relevant commercial and technical experience, and also a good cultural fit, being key criteria.”

Hudson also reports that the greatest contractor opportunities are for IT professionals, with a “real demand for project managers, change managers and business analysts that can guide organisations through the business transformation process.”

According to the recruiter, key skill and capabilities most wanted from project managers and business analysts include:

•    The ability to communicate effectively within the organisation and help deliver business solutions to effect the required changes

•    The ability to integrate those solutions into existing technology environments to enable projects

•    Software development capabilities, particularly for mobile, as organisations invest more heavily in improved customer contact and interaction.

“In many situations it comes down to having the soft skills to be able to operate and thrive in a changing environment,” Davis says.

“The ability to operate and communicate with others, to work with competing priorities and to learn new domains are all important competences.

“As an IT professional it is important that you stay relevant. Technology continues to change at a rapid pace and those IT professionals that invest in their own development, keep their certifications up to date and stay abreast of the latest developments are the ones that will find the market to be favourable.

“Those who can’t learn new skills or resist changes within their organisations are more likely to struggle,” Davis cautions.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. 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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