Will an ice age follow the jobs thaw?

We in the information and communications technology sector should be grateful as we lead the way in the "muted" economic recovery.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor

We in the information and communications technology sector should be grateful as we lead the way in the "muted" economic recovery.

Major recruiter Hudson has revealed its latest recruitment forecast for New Zealand (PDF), saying that generally, the jobs market is at its best since 2008. In ICT, things are going swimmingly, with recruitment intentions looking better than even Australia.

The IT industry remains the most confident across industries nationally, with a net 52.3 per cent of employers indicating an intention to increase their permanent staff levels over the coming three months. This result is up 3.7 percentage points from last quarter.

The skills shortage has never gone away and as companies are starting to hire again, the best candidates are getting snapped up very quickly. Also, there is a strong desire among many employers to shift away from the use of contractors as a normal part of their business and to take on more permanent staff.

Optimism about being able to do this may also be driving hiring intentions within the telecommunications industry, where sentiment is up 18.3 percentage points from last quarter.

A net 36.4 per cent of telecommunications employers are now reporting an intention to raise permanent staff levels during the next three months.

In Australia, Hudson also reported a strong market, with over 40 per cent of IT employers looking to recruit in the next few months. Hire now or miss out, we are told.

We have much to be thankful for, but how long might this last?

A few days back I read about "squeezed" middle classes, suffering most from rising living costs. The report warned of even tougher times ahead, with those people to suffer from job losses as much as factory workers have done. India and China, it said, are churning out millions of graduates every year. Legal work once charged out at high rates can now easily be done in Manila or somewhere for much less.

The same could well apply with many IT jobs. I often hear techies speak rapturously of using remote tools for repair work, saving them the job of driving out to clients.

Tools exist for software, repairs and many other tasks to be done overseas. We only have to look at the offshore call centre and helpdesk jobs.

How soon before competition from overseas starts biting into the jobs and living standards of those in the tech sector on a larger scale than it has already?

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