Healthcare and education sectors hungry for Australian IT skills

The Peoplebank Salary Survey shows the healthcare and education sectors are fuelling growth in IT employment.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

IT employment within Australia is off to a strong start this year, thanks to the healthcare and education sectors, according to the Peoplebank Salary Survey.

The survey shows that employers in healthcare and education have been the hungriest for IT skills, particularly over the November to January period. Healthcare sector demand has been rising month on month from August 2013, peaking at 127.12 points in January, while the demand from the education sector has risen since October to 123.55 points. The points system considers May 2013 as a baseline that is set to 100.

Peoplebank CEO Peter Acheson said the healthcare and education sectors' investment in new initiatives is stimulating the demand.

"The sheer number of new e-health initiatives — in PCEHR, telehealth, remote diagnosis, and more — make healthcare one of Australia's strongest areas of ICT investment, alongside the education market, where developments, including faster broadband, are fuelling innovation," he said.

On a state-by-state basis, Acheson said that Victoria, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, and Queensland all experienced a strong start to 2014 in comparison to 2013. New South Wales — the nation's largest hirer of IT skills — lagged due to slower than normal hiring in the banking sector. However, Acheson predicts that this should strengthen by Q2 2014.

At the same time, Acheson said investments in the broader commercial sector — including manufacturing, retail, and the resources sector — remain the engine room of IT hiring as companies continue with projects around big data, social, mobile, and cloud operations.

The data also shows that employers are choosing to hire contractors over permanent staff. Since the May 2013 baseline, there has been a gradual decline in permanent staff, dropping to 84 points in January 2014. On the other hand, contract and temporary staff have been constant, at approximately 102 points since November 2013.

Position wise, demand during January has been strongest for quality assurance and testers, systems engineers, and database administrators. But all positions are in less demand than they were in May 2013.

Acheson said there are expectations that there will be good opportunities for IT professionals going forward, ahead of possibly even stronger prospects in 2015.

"Overall, Peoplebank has begun 2014 on the strongest footing we've seen in 18 months," he said.

"While we're beginning the new year on the back of a softer 2013 — which has meant that we have a large pool of ICT professionals available for hire, and few in the industry achieved pay rises last quarter — demand is steadily lifting in 2014," he said.

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