IT recruitment largely unaffected by economic climate

Latest report says downturn yet to hit recruitment but combined with the continuing talent shortage, recruiters may need to rethink their attraction strategies

IT&T employers say they are not being affected by the current economic climate, but expectations have dipped and the focus has shifted to the passive job market.

That is the message from Hudson’s latest Recruitment Focus IT&T research, released this week and based on survey responses from 1056 IT&T hiring managers.

Hudson’s director of IT&T, Shane Blandford, said the report indicated the current economic climate has not impacted recruiters, at least for the moment.

“It has been difficult for them over a number of years now for them to source, attract and retain good quality IT&T staff and the economic climate hasn’t impacted on that,” he said.

“That is not to say their intentions to hire have not changed and clearly the report shows that IT employers have reduced their expectations by 10 percentage points or roughly thereabouts in this report compared to the previous quarter.”

Key findings included 69 per cent of employers say they are not affected by the economic downturn, 42 per cent continue to find sourcing candidates with appropriate skills difficult – an indication the talent shortage is still biting – and the most difficult skills to find are developers, business analysts and desktop/help desk support.

Hudson’s findings are in line with the latest Hays Quarterly Report which found IT recruitment robust despite the sour economic climate.

Blandford said the IT industry is starting to see some contract to permanent conversion as projects are cancelled or put on hold due to the economic downturn. The Olivier Job Index recently called 2008 a “horror year” for people seeking work in IT, citing particular difficulty for graduates and contractors, after the Gershon report called for a 50 percent reduction in government contractors.

The Australian Computer Society supports Sir Peter Gershon’s Report but warned that knee-jerk slashing of budgets or personnel could see the industry take a backward step. Its latest salary survey also found ICT wages and demand are steadily growing despite the economic turmoil.

“The impact of government contractors in the market place is yet to be known and that will play out in the next 12 months. I think when the Olivier report talks about a bit of turmoil, I don’t think they are off the mark because we really don’t know the impacts at this particular stage,” Blandford said.

“The difficulty in finding good skilled workers will not let up and what has to happen is the employers will need to change their strategies, particularly related to their attraction strategies. The active job seeking market will shrink, therefore they must go after the passive market.”

Blandford said NSW and Victoria were the best places to look at this particular stage, and possibly Adelaide.

“But certainly not Canberra and not WA; they have had very tight IT labour forces. WA and also Brisbane have increased competition from the resources boom, which shows signs of coming back a little bit. Potentially, they could free up a bit but at the moment I am thinking Sydney and Melbourne are the better states.”

Integrators such as Data#3 have said recruitment and procurement are the top two areas affected from a slowdown in customer spending due to the economic crunch.

Additional reporting by Trevor Clarke

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