JobWatch: Triple whammy for ICT professionals

Rising unemployment, fewer ICT jobs, and structural change are impacting the prospects for ICT professionals.
Written by Phil Dobbie, Contributor

Unemployed ICT professionals are having a difficult time of it lately because they are fighting against the odds on three fronts.

For a start, employment growth has stalled. The latest labour statistics from the ABS show, that whilst those in full-time employment over the last five years has grown by 6 percent, the last year has seen a rise of just 1.4 percent, and most of that comes from Perth (9 percent up). In Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane the number employed is struggling to keep up with population growth. It's clear that the Australian economy has slowed.

The second issue is that there are fewer ICT jobs being advertised. There were almost 140,000 jobs for ICT professionals advertised in the year to October 2012, a 23 percent drop on the year before. Basically, it signifies a stalling of what was looking like a jobs recovery after the impact of the global financial crisis, as businesses are lacking confidence and holding off advertising full-time jobs.

Sadly, it's not all to do with the state of the economy. ICT accounted for a quarter of all professional roles in the year to October 2007. That's now fallen to just 20 percent. It would seem to indicate that there's structural change happening — demand for ICT professionals are falling faster than other sectors, and it's been particularly marked over the last couple of years. Is that the cloud, on-demand services, or maybe virtualisation taking hold?

There's another factor for those in Sydney — it's starting to lose its dominance for ICT roles. Sure, it still accounts for 40 percent of all advertised roles (for year to October 2012), but that’s a big drop from the 45 percent share it had the year before. Meanwhile, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth have all increased their share. It's an extra shackle for Sydney ICT job seekers to wear.

But wait, there's more. If you are a married guy in your late fifties, you are competing with more of your peers — in October, this group saw a 6 percent drop in engagement of full-time employment than a year ago.

It paints a disturbing picture. If you're an out-of-work, middle-aged ICT professional, it's time to start your own business or buy a boat and sail around the world.

You can no longer assume that the next big job is just around the corner.

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