NBN, finance sector pressure IT skills supply: Report

Larger organisations may rely more on offshore arrangements

The National Broadband Network and a resurgent financial services sector are combining to put pressure on IT skills availability, according to a new report.

Banks and other financial sector employers have stepped up their recruiting activity as upgrades of internal systems begin again. Areas of technology skill shortage expected this year will be in ERP, development, telecommunications and integration.

The latest Clarius Skills Index reports that industries requiring computer professionals are under pressure, particularly in the finance sector and with the rollout of the NBN.

The index, which measures underlying demand and supply of skilled labour, has edged upwards over the March quarter to record the strongest skills index reading for all professionals, moving from December’s 99.6 to 100.6.

A score of 100 indicates equal tension between labour supply and demand. Anything greater than 100 indicates a skills shortage. Before the global financial crisis (GFC) in the first half of 2008, the index sat at 104.1.

Kym Quick, chief operating officer at Candle ICT, the technology division of Clarius, says the banking and finance sector is experiencing a resurgence, particularly among the bigger banks.

“ANZ and NAB in Melbourne are undertaking upgrades of core banking systems,” Quick said. “The Commonwealth and Westpac are engaged in upgrades and significant integration work.”

Clarius predicts employers are facing a significant wages hike unless the 457 Visa rules are softened to allow more highly skilled IT professionals into Australia to meet rising post-GFC demand.

“The demand for in-house IT professionals has also begun to recover in line with a general upswing in hiring activity,” Quick said.

Quick added the rollout of the NBN – with 37,000 jobs at its peak – is likely to create further labour demand pressures in the sector over the next few years.

“This will have a large impact on the labour market, and given the previous tightness in this sector the Index is likely to appreciate in the near future as local labour supply struggles to keep up with increased demand," she said.

“This will impact the major telcos [and] the smaller players which will affect the levels of skilled IT talent. The reality is, the recovery in IT has happened, the scramble to secure top talent is well underway.”

Quick says that as the shortage begins to be realised, larger organisations will rely more heavily on offshore arrangements.

Retention strategies again will become paramount for HR departments making sure that companies have aggressive and appropriate strategies in place to keep, retain and motivate their best people, according to Clarius.

Overall, the Skills Index rates the “computing professionals” as “balanced”, with growth in the demand for computing skills reflecting a broad-based recovery in economic activity.

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