Survey shows promising year for IT

IT salary levels in Australia have shown a slight increase this year after the volatile situation of the industry in 2003, according to a new survey.According to a report from Robert Walters Recruitment consultancy, organisations are now starting to commit to investments in line with increases in business activity.

IT salary levels in Australia have shown a slight increase this year after the volatile situation of the industry in 2003, according to a new survey.

According to a report from Robert Walters Recruitment consultancy, organisations are now starting to commit to investments in line with increases in business activity. Eddie Liu, manager of Sydney IT recruitment said, "Salaries for permanent roles have actually shown an increase (based upon mid-point values per discipline) as employers commit to the acquisition of top talent into their organisations."

Liu believes the focus for employers this year will include information security with a particular emphasis on CISSP and experience in AS/NZS 7799 frameworks. Liu adds that 90 percent of their clients have shown a preference for experience in AS/NZS 7799 over CISSP accreditation. There is also a demand for structured program and project managers.

Some IT project areas have re-emerged this year in different forms. Liu said, "The dotcom skills of yesteryear are far from being obsolete as major commercial and financial institutions continue to develop Web-based systems. Mainframe operations teams here are still in demand as companies are now hesitant to switch over to new ERPs without the back up of running their legacy systems in parallel, until the new ERPs are proven to be reliable."

According to Liu, the highest demand across the market is for the combination of technical and commercial skills. "Employers are no longer seeking a "project manager" or an "analyst programmer" as isolated technical skill sets. Instead they are seeking a track record of success within similar commercial environments as the expectation increases for technical staff to understand what business objectives are and how technology is going to help achieve those results. The days of a pure technical professionals with no commercial interest or understanding are gone. Employers are simply not interested in technical staff working in isolation from the business."

According to the report, expected improvements in the IT sector in 2003 did not happen in Melbourne because a majority of organisations were reluctant to increase IT expenditures. Cost cutting still occurred throughout the technology sector through redundancies and restructuring of technology groups as well as through increased pushes to outsource development to cheaper overseas locations.

In Melbourne, salary ranges across all roles have been affected by the oversupply of candidates in the market, giving employers the opportunity to secure talent at salary levels below the market value of three years ago.

Even now, many Australian organisations are operating under constraints set upon them by global headcount freeze mandates set by overseas head offices. If global economic conditions improve this year, the headcount restraints are expected to be lifted, creating a renewed demand for IT professionals.

According to the report, the demand in Sydney for experienced project and program management expertise increased through the fourth quarter of 2003 and is forecasted to continue through 2004.

Due to the project-based nature of the majority of development assignments, a continued shift towards a contract, fixed-term contract and contract-to-permanent roles was experienced through the latter half of 2003 and many hiring managers indicate that this will become the norm through 2004.

The report also shows that salary ranges have remained relatively static in Sydney, where a healthy proportion of jobs secured in 2003 were in the top echelons of the remuneration bands.