IT jobs market slumps over Christmas

No clear causal factors for the drop

The IT jobs market slumped significantly over the holiday period, according to a recruitment firm, with a larger drop than the wider jobs market, which itself experienced the largest fall in job ads in 18 months.

The latest jobs index from Advantage Professional indicated an unexpected softening in the jobs market over December, with IT jobs nationally falling 5.3 per cent for the month.

Firm director, Bob Olivier, told Computerworld Australia he was surprised by the slump in the IT sector as typical factors like interest rates did not usually affect the industry.

“December and January are always hard months to read because it’s the Christmas and New Year holidays always interrupt things but there’s nothing specific that I’m aware of in terms of any serious negativity toward IT projects going forward, there’s a general wariness in the market but nothing profoundly anti-IT,” Olivier said.

According to the index, the sector has performed well over the last 12 months with a 27 per cent increase nationally. However, every state except Tasmania posted decreases for the month of December.

Victoria performed the strongest, falling just 1.4 per cent, while the ACT dropped some 12.1 per cent. Western Australia was also down 3.2 per cent, yet has had what Olivier describes as a “spectacular” year with an overall increase of 44 per cent during 2010.

“This is the first month we’ve seen a serious deterioration in job numbers but it’s one month, it’s not a trend, so we need to see more, particularly around this time of year because the Christmas period does knock the market around significantly,” he said.

“I think the first quarter of 2011 is going to be quite difficult generally and IT may be no exception now that it’s seen these results but I’m still optimistic that this is a temporary aberration, I think we need to see more than one month of negativity to draw any conclusion.”

While the drop is a concern, says Olivier, it’ll be a couple more months before any conclusions can be drawn.

“IT has been performing better than everyone else so I’m not calling it over by any stretch of the imagination but a softening of expectations at this time is certainly in order.”

Following last month’s index, Olivier advised job seekers to get into action before Christmas, warning many positions would be filled in the new year. The lead-up up to Christmas also saw a drop in IT job ads, despite continued growth in the wider jobs market.

Despite this, a survey from recruitment firm Hudson in October indicated ICT employers had developed a hiring confidence not seen since September 2008.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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