Skills shortage to drive salary growth in 2011: Recruiters

IT employers in the public sector are set to face a challenging 2011 as skills shortages continue and the competition for staff increases among employments, say recruitment firms.

Hays public sector director, Kathy Kostyrko, said the skills shortage has caused a growth in job numbers and is tempting strong candidates to explore their options and become more selective about roles.

“Candidates are aware of both the greater number of jobs and the subsequent fall in the number of people that are available who possess the necessary level of expertise,” Kostyrko said in a statement. “So they are becoming more confident.”

According to Kostyrko, job numbers are rising as a result of employers closing skill gaps for both contract and permanent positions in their organisations.

“Since the jobs market has become more stable and job numbers have risen, candidates are more confident and will leave secure permanent roles for a role offering a higher salary, better work/life balance or roles that are located closer to home. High quality candidates are typically snapped up very quickly.”

As a result of increased competition in the market, recruitment firm Robert Walter has predicted subsequent rises in salaries for numerous sections of the industry in 2011. A survey recently conducted by the firm indicated Brisbane is likely to experience “fierce competition” in 2011 as organisations try to secure the top candidates in both the public and private sectors.

Senior and middle-level project managers and project coordinators are expected to see the highest rises in salaries across the next year.

Existing technology projects in Melbourne will also maintain demand for IT professionals throughout the year, most significantly if projected operations of the National Broadband Network (NBN) continue. Survey figures show salaries for almost all IT roles, with the exception of basic support roles, will climb.

In Perth, the market will continue to recover as various new projects begin including network and systems upgrades; business process improvements and business intelligence, resulting in high demand for quality project managers, business analysts, solution architects, network engineers, Microsoft developers and Oracle R12 specialists.

“Competition for professionals with these skills will be fierce, which we expect to result in salary increases for both permanent and contract professionals in 2011,” the survey reads. “We also anticipate companies will continue to consider high-calibre overseas candidates as the skills shortage becomes more acute due to the general increase in recruitment activity.”

The biggest increase, according to survey results, is for programme managers, who can expect salary increases of between $10,000 and $30,000 across the year for permanent roles, though contractual hourly rates aren't indicated to change.

In Sydney, Robert Walters indicated those with the ability to communicate with business stakeholders effectively would find the highest demand.

“The rising demand for IT professionals resulting from an increasingly buoyant market means 2011 looks set to be candidate rather than employer-driven,” the survey reads. “This will result in increased salaries, with the high quality talent receiving multiple options and/or counter-offers from their existing employer.

“There will also be an increased emphasis on staff retention as companies look to keep top talent in the face of increasingly strong competition.”

In response to the growing competition, Kostyrko said many organisations are changing traditional recruitment processes.

“Government employers are offering short-term contracts, such as three and six months, to help with workloads,” she said.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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