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ICT Trends: The Market's Thirst for Skills

Garry Roberton. 23 March 2015, 2:13 pm

A headline in the 19 March New Zealand Herald said it all: More Jobs Than Candidates

The article centered on the MBIE Jobs Online report for February 2015 listing skill shortages across several occupation groups. But the demand for ICT Support and Test Engineers were tabulated under the heading 'fastest growing occupations for professionals', having grown by 13 per cent over the previous February.

Vacancies listed for these skills on the Seek ICT job advert website include:

  • ICT Support—74
  • Test Engineer—192
  • Test (all categories ranging from Graduate test Analyst to Automation Engineer)—302
  • Test & Quality Assurance—159. A regional breakdown of this number reveals that (Auckland has 89 vacancies, at 56 per cent while Wellington and Canterbury each have 32 vacancies at 20 per cent)

Overall growth in skilled vacancies in the Canterbury region was enhanced by the increase associated with IT industries, up 1.4 per cent.

Hiring Expectations

The Hudson 2015 Quarter 2 report states that employer hiring sentiment is at its highest level in six years with employment in Wellington on the increase, led by the resumption of large Government transformation projects. Figure 4 illustrates an increase of 12 percent for Seek ICT job adverts for Wellington for the February - March period, 4 percent ahead of Canterbury, possibly underscoring the impact of major Government ICT projects.

The report also asserts that ICT hiring managers intend to increase permanent headcount by a net 36 per cent, and contract roles by a net 20 per cent to satisfy an increase in demand for roles (as of 20 March) related to business process (442 Seek ICT job adverts acros all categories) and enhancing the customer experience (761 Seek ICT job adverts across all categories).

Skills in Demand

New technologies and shifts in business processes and priorities are impacting on the in-demand skills required of ICT employees, according to a recent Australian TechRepublic article. Companies are faced with unique IT hiring challenges with the growth of new disciplines like big data and the impending retirement of legions of highly skilled baby boomers. This is forcing them to re-evaluate the skills they are looking for in IT job candidates including:

  • Librarian (science) expertise; aggregating and analysing big data
  • Musical talent; Music, like programming, can be a highly mathematical and logical exercise
  • Strong oral and written skills; no surprises here as an emphasis on soft skills has always been to the fore, also comprising;
    • Creative problem solving; an ability to think beyond the box and come up with fresh approaches
    • A can-do attitude; an ability to solve difficult problems
    • Negotiation skills; an ability to broker successful business relationships
    • Coolness under pressure when faced with seemingly intractable problems
  • Foreign language skills; with many of today's ICT/software companies operating globally job candidates who are able to interact in multiple languages are highly sought
  • Mainframe skills; really? Mainframes still account for more than 60 per cent of the world's enterprise transactions. As concerns grow over the so-called "mainframe brain drain" a growing number of colleges and universities worldwide now teach mainframe technology in their IT curricula and are reporting 100 percent job placement of graduates
  • Skills in voice-based applications; with voice apps beginning to assume major roles in operations like warehousing and distribution companies need IT workers who can understand and write voice-based applications

Seek ICT Job Adverts

Seek ICT job adverts for all NZ for March are up slightly by 1 percent on February figures, but are down significantly by 9.4 percent on this time last year (Fig.1). 

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 1.15.41 pm.png 

Fig.1 Seek ICT Job Adverts Monthly Trends 2010 -2015 (March)

The number of IT job adverts on Trademe are down by 3.8 percent on March 2014, but have increased by 10.8 percent on last month's figures (Fig.2).

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 1.20.01 pm.png 

Fig.2 Seek ICT & Trademe IT Job Advert Trends to March 2015

Seek ICT regional job adverts for Auckland and Wellington are well behind the March 2014 figures, down 15.7 percent and 10.5 percent respectively. Canterbury is the new powerhouse for ICT jobs, up 43 percent on this time last year with an 8 percent increase on last month (Fig.3). (Refer fig.4 for specific numbers). Auckland's 4.5 percent decrease for the month may be an indication that a government campaign to reverse the Australian brain drain is starting to have a positive impact on addressing the demand for ICT skills. With a new annual high of 55,000 more people arriving in New Zealand than leaving, many from India and China, employers potentially have a fresh pool of ICT skills to draw on.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 1.22.58 pm.png

Fig.3 Seek ICT Job Advert Trends Monthly Change for March 2015

Figure 4 provides a detailed record of the Seek ICT job advert trends by region to March 2015.  

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.04.09 pm.png 


F.ig.4 Seek ICT Job Advert Monthly Trends to March 2015


The NZ ICT job market continues to deliver a positive message for job seekers with employer hiring sentiment at its highest level in 6 years and the regional demand for specific skill sets growing, especially in Wellington and Canterbury


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