IT skills shortage remains in Australia and New Zealand as borders stay shut

While Australian and New Zealand employers are looking to hire more talent, the right skills do not appear easy to find, the latest Hays Salary Guide Report has indicated, yet half of employers plan to barely open their wallets to retain talent.

Australia and New Zealand's technology sector has been called out by recruitment firm Hays as one of the top industries currently suffering from a severe skills shortage.

In releasing the Hays Salary Guide Report FY21/22, Hays Australia and New Zealand managing director Nick Deligiannis highlighted that the tech sector is one sector where skills are currently in short supply.

"Technology is a huge one because the demand for technology is exponential [such as] cloud-based specialists, UX/UI, cybersecurity. In those areas, there is a real shortage of talent and skills," he said, speaking on a panel at the report's launch event on Tuesday.   

According to the report, which is based on survey results of nearly 3,500 organisations, 68% of the local technology industry is suffering from skills shortages. This is alongside other sectors including banking, mining, and human resources. The report noted that the resulting reduction of active candidates in the sector was impacted by interstate and international border closures. 

In the next 12 months, 64% of employers believe the tech skills shortage will impact the effectiveness of their organisation or department.

The findings by Hays around skills shortages in the tech sector are not too dissimilar to what Seek uncovered earlier this year.

Deligiannis suggested that to address the skills shortages, employers may need to widen their search pool.

"They could also consider recruiting outside their normal candidate pools for people with the right soft skills, then upskill them in the necessary technical areas," he said.

In a bid to retain the staff they have, the guide revealed that 65% of technology employers plan to increase salaries in their next review, up from 38% who did so in their last review. But only 19% plan to award increases of 3% and above. Instead, almost half intend to raise salaries at a rate of 3% or below.

Read also: 7 in-demand tech skills to master in 2021 (TechRepublic)

Staff within the tech sector, however, believe they deserve a lot more, with 68% of technology professionals saying they deserve a 3% or more in salary increase, as they said it would "better reflect their performance".

Low salary increases, according to the Hays guide, is serving as part of the reason why 76% of technology professionals said they are currently looking for a new job, plan to look for, or are open to new opportunities in the next 12 months. Other drivers include poor management style or workplace culture and lack of challenges.

"There's this big effect happening; this big chasm between the expectations of [employees and employers]. As far as drivers, confidence is a big one for employee and the level of recruitment activity in the employment market where employment growth has been significant. With that comes opportunities, especially if you think about it in light of the last year where employees have put their careers on hold, they have put their salary expectation on hold, and now they want to play catch-up," Deligiannis said.

While pay rises are important, 65% of all skilled professionals rate learning and developing new skills as the most important priority for them.

"Employees are looking for more than just a salary, they're looking for more than just a job; they want careers," International Convention Centre Sydney human resources director Natalie Britt said.

"You have to provide more than just your base salary and your wage increases to retain top talent, so you need to review your reward and recognition programs. Make sure that when you're looking at the whole employment package, it is looking at those internal promotional opportunities, it is looking at those secondment jobs that you make available for these people, but it's also tailored training programs that you offer."

The Hays report also indicated that hybrid working is here to stay with 58% of all Australian employers saying that hybrid working is the new form of office space. In terms of how employers plan to navigate the new way of working, 63% of employers said they want to see staff back in the office two days a week, and the remainder remotely.

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