From IT Wire by Beverley Head Tuesday, 08 November 2011 05:19
It now seems safe to state categorically that courtesy of the economy and tumbling business confidence Australia’s IT skills shortage is well and truly over and will stay so for the remainder of 2011 and well into the first quarter of 2012.
Candle, the IT recruitment arm of the Clarius group overnight released the findings of its September quarter Clarius Skills Index for Computing Professionals which shows that skills demand and supply is at the most balanced level it has been all year.
KPMG Econotech conducts the skills survey for Clarius using Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations data. An index of 100 represents perfect skills-demand balance where figures above 101 are considered to indicate skills shortages.
For September the index stood at 100.4, marginally down from June when it stood at 100.5 and well down on the 101.1 index during the March quarter.
According to the Australian Information Industry Association there are about 426,000 ICT professionals employed nationwide. Clarius’ report found that there was a shortfall of just 900 people in the September quarter, compared to 1,100 three months earlier.
Linda Trevor, Candle’s executive general manager, said that while October and November were generally pretty good months for recruitment, the demand had been much slower this year than last. Generally demand dies almost completely in December and January, picking up again toward the end of February.
While demand seems in the doldrums at present, Ms Trevor was keen to talk up the prospects for early next year.
“This is a bit deceptive as there will always be a skills shortage with an ageing workforce,” she said. Ms Trevor added that she believed employers had been spooked by the uncertainty on the broader economy and restrained about hiring new permanent staff.
“It’s very very unpredictable at the moment…because people are being really reactive to what is happening in the market” However she said that in discussions she had held recently with companies they had all said that they planned to start hiring again in earnest during the first quarter of 2012.
Asked whether the changes foreshadowed last week and confirmed this week regarding the changes to the 457 visa accreditation process might further reduce the shortfall between supply and demand Ms Trevor said that while welcome, the changes would not necessarily overcome skills gaps.
Under the Government’s 457 sponsorship accreditation scheme companies with revenues of $4 million plus which have been involved as a 457 visa sponsor in the last three years, and with at least 75 per cent of their workforce being Australian workers, can apply for a six year long accredited status allowing the fast tracking of 457 visa applications.
Ms Trevor said that this was useful for employers, but that holders of 457 visas themselves would still only be able to come and work in Australia for a maximum of four years at a time.