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ICT Trends: Business Confidence

Garry Roberton. 03 June 2014, 1:35 pm
ICT Trends: Business Confidence

Demand for IT Professionals

A recent Candle Market Update reports a positive business sentiment in New Zealand that is helping reverse the off-shore flow of IT talent with Kiwi professionals returning home from Australia, the USA and the UK. Those returning from Australia may be largely influenced by a new report showing that Australia now has a large and increasing oversupply of ICT professionals, not a skills shortage as widely publicized over recent years.

The New Zealand demand for IT professionals is fuelled in part by the growth in exports of computer and information services and by the government's Wellington departments of Customs and Ministry of Social Development requirements for .Net developers, C#, and Java developers.

The most sought after skills here in the next 12 months will be those supporting the growth of software- and web-based software companies. These include skills in C# and Java Script front-end IOS and UX, and web-based development and design tools. According to the report ICT professionals are holding out for well-paid contract roles, rather than take permanent roles, as the local software development sector breaks into new international markets.

However, the latest Seek ICT job advert numbers confirm a long established reality that the 80:20 rule continues to apply to the ratio of full time ICT jobs over the Contract/Temp category, both nationally and in Wellington this month (Fig.1).

Figure 1 june 3 b.png

Fig.1 Wellington Seek ICT Job Adverts: Ratio of Full Time to Contract/Temp

Unfortunately, the positive business sentiment is not backed up in terms of the number of Seek ICT job adverts for this month, with a drop of 16 per cent on April's figure of 2483, and 8 per cent down on May 2013 (Fig.2 below). This could be due to a dip in business confidence, possibly as a result of 2014 being an election year, although there may be many reasons for the sudden drop in Seek ICT advertised jobs. Perhaps the unexpected return of New Zealanders from Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA, with the requisite ICT knowledge, skills and experience are taking up many of the available positions.

2014 Budget Announcement

A $198.6 million boost for tertiary education and research, according to Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce, continues a focus on increasing funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and includes $28.6 million for ICT training initiatives. Given the predicted continuing growth in technology-related industries and businesses, the additional funding is a welcome increase that could/should go some way to addressing the foreseeable demand for ICT skilled and qualified graduates.

Figure 2 june 3.png

Fig.2 Seek ICT Job Adverts Monthly Trends 2010 -2014 (May)

While Trademe IT job adverts (fig.3) are down 13 per cent on last month, reflecting a similar decline in Seek ICT job adverts, they continue to trend ahead of this time last year, up 1.3 per cent.

Fig 3 june 3.png

Fig.3 Seek ICT & Trademe IT Job Advert Trends to May 2014

The monthly Seek ICT job adverts for May (fig.4) have decreased for all regions with Wellington down 30 per cent on last month. Auckland had the smallest decrease. (Refer to figure 5 for specific numbers).

Fig 4 june 3.png

Fig.4 Seek ICT Job Advert Trends Monthly Change for May 2014

Figure 5 provides a detailed record of the Seek ICT job advert trends by region to May 2014.

Fig 5 june 3.png

Fig.5 Seek ICT Job Advert Monthly Trends to May 2014

Conclusion

This month's drop in Seek ICT job adverts may just be an aberration that defies a specific explanation. Overall it is clear that NZ's ICT industry is thriving. It will continue to fuel a demand for people with the necessary skills and knowledge and to provide opportunities for a financially rewarding career.


Comments

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David Lane 06 June 2014, 9:47 pm

Garry - have you considered the possibility that these sorts of advertised roles, on a small number of websites, might not provide an accurate reflection of the overall picture?

Very few of the interesting dev shops I know advertise positions - their prospects seek them out. Large organisations like corporates, banks, gov't agencies tend to have HR departments and the money sloshing around to hire recruiting firms and advertise on these sites. I'd be interested to know how those tendencies skew, for example, the number of *actual* roles available, and (more importantly) the prominence of different technologies. It seems to me that the information that sites like this provide (and I don't know their data gathering techniques, but their programming technology popularity assessment cast doubt upon the trends you identify: www.langpop.com/ and www.sitepoint.com/best-prog...

Paul Matthews 06 June 2014, 9:54 pm

Hi Dave,

I think the key here is that this is called "ICT Trends". Even if it doesn't capture every job being advertised, analysing the two most popular job ad sites over time *does* provide meaningful trend data.

David Lane 07 June 2014, 8:58 am

Thanks for your response, Paul. I'm just concerned that people might make decisions on what to study or adopt as a business based on this trend data... For example, the idea that C# is a hot language in NZ is quite likely to be misleading, for example (and I'm sorry I don't have the source handy) that PHP has 80% of the dev market while ASP.Net only represents about 15%... I suspect that the subsample used to identify these trends includes significant systemic bias.

Jan Wijninckx 09 June 2014, 7:51 pm

Paul,

Gary absolutely has got a good point, jobs advertised is no measure whatsoever.

Most jobs are advertised by 1 to 5 agencies, how do you compensate for that? and if you apply you'll find out that the agency was just fishing.

That there is a shortage of IT folk is a total myth, perpetuated here time and again.

IT pay has always been a function of supply and demand. We earn the same as we did in 2000, and if you take inflation into account then that is a 35% drop in salary. So the fact is there is no more premium on IT, there is no shortage.

The shortage we have is brains in IT HR. If these people get a request for an Orcacle dba then they won't look at an MS SQL dba. The same applies to project managers, they get a request for a PM in the whatever space and then the CV must have exactly those words. Thus a PM who is a good PM (i.e. knows how to manage scope, time, cost , quality, and be extremely good at communications), but doesn't have the exact domain knowledge won't get a look in. How dumb. I know a several guys who are on the shelve and encountering this. So don't tell me that there is a shortage.

Paul Matthews 09 June 2014, 10:11 pm

Hi Jan,

I have to respectfully disagree in relation to the shortage - the stats, and the companies we talk to literally daily, back up the sector's significant skills shortage.

That doesn't mean that all skills are in significant demand and nobody has problems finding work though. In fact the shortage is clearly only in very specific areas of IT.

While salaries and demand do change in different areas of the country, and the skills shortage isn't universal (it's only in certain areas of IT - not everywhere), every salary survey, employer survey, government and other research and stats backs this up.

For a salary comparison for example, the TradeMe Salary Guide has ICT topping the list salary-wise: www.trademe.co.nz/jobs/sala.... Seek reflects this (www.seek.co.nz/jobs-resources) as does the salary results put out by all of the agencies almost weekly.

But more to the point, almost every ICT employer I speak to says their number 1 problem is finding people with the right skills. It's the theme that comes up time and again in discussions.

My point in relation to Garry's work is that the *trend* is what's important. All of the issues you've identified (such as multiple agencies advertising a position, or positions not being advertised) are valid, however don't impact the trend over a period of time.

Having said that, I don't at all disagree that there's a big problem around HR and matching people to roles. More agencies are taking up SFIA to define roles (and applicants) more accurately, but there's still a way to go.

Thanks for commenting.


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