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Opportunity clicks for workers with tech skills

By Jennifer Foreshew

INSIGHTS // Media Coverage

9 Nov 2010

#Agile|#Careers|#Training

INSIGHTS // Media Coverage

#Agile|#Careers|#Training

By Jennifer Foreshew

9 Nov 2010

WHEN senior consultant Peter Youssef moved from the Gold Coast to Sydney, it took just a couple of weeks to snare the position he wanted.

The 26-year-old started with LoyaltyTech, a small software development company, in September after leaving his role as a senior software engineer in the telecommunications sector.

A survey released today by recruitment firm Robert Half Technology shows almost half of Australian technology employees feel their salary package is not fair and in line with the market.

However, after sending a couple of resumes to recruitment agencies, Mr Youssef was surprised by the response. “There were so many that were contacting me it was difficult to keep track of them and where they were applying me to,” he said. “There were quite a few opportunities.”

Mr Youssef opted to work for LoyaltyTech to get experience in a more customer-facing role. He received an increase of about 10 per cent on his former salary, plus bonuses.

Related Coverage
• Recruiters warn of skills shortage Australian IT, 26 Jul 2010
• Accountants duped on pay rises – survey Daily Telegraph, 23 Jun 2010
• Hiring defies global uncertainty Australian IT, 7 Jun 2010
• Bosses with short arms, long pockets hit Perth Now, 1 Jun 2010
• Software to net employee cheats Perth Now, 13 May 2010

Every second week, he returns to the Gold Coast and works from there for a few days. “That is a perk you wouldn’t really find in very big companies,” he said.

In the survey, almost three-quarters said they would switch jobs to improve their bargaining power in salary negotiations.

“These guys have felt under-paid and undervalued over the last 18 months,” Robert Half Technology manager Jon Chapman said.

Salary rises in the sector ranged from 5 per cent to 40 per cent for in-demand skills. The technologies in greatest demand were in application development, business intelligence, data warehousing and enterprise resource planning, he said.

The survey showed 70 per cent of employers of technology workers were concerned about losing top performers in the next year, and 81 per cent planned to hire in the next six months.

Chris Carter, managing director of software testing systems provider Planit, said his biggest difficulty was finding talent, particularly at the senior end.

For software testing, wage demands were 15-20 per cent “more than we were paying a couple of years ago”, he said. “It is a challenge, but it is not stopping us growing. It is stopping us growing at a rate that we would be comfortable with.”

Planit, which has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Wellington, has more than 300 staff, 95 per cent of them permanent. It has outsourcing arrangements with an Indian company.

In 2008, Planit snared 14 staff in a recruiting drive in Britain. “In 2011, if things continue the way they are, we will mostly certainly go over to the UK again to look for another 12 to 20 people,” said Mr Carter.
Test manager Daniel Stainton joined Planit’s Sydney office in June after being retrenched from his former role with a big telecommunications company.

The 41-year-old father of three secured a salary increase of 10 per cent when he joined Planit.
“Planit have offered me exactly what I need,” said Mr Stainton, who has worked in the industry for 22 years. “I know that I will be well looked after and there are opportunities if I want to teach or train. I am hoping to grow with the company.”

LoyaltyTech managing director Matt Hampshire is expecting salaries to jump by 10-20 per cent when he recruits staff early next year. “What we are finding is our staff are putting pressure on us to keep their salaries up, and recognise them the best we can in different ways.”

LoyaltyTech, which does cross-channel integration for the retail sector, typically looks for senior Java programmers who can deal with frontline customers.

The Sydney firm, which has offices in Melbourne and the US, has just completed a hiring cycle but plans to more than double its full-time staff next year.

The Advantage Job Index, released yesterday,indicates employees will expect higher wages as interest rates and the cost of living rise. Advantage Resourcing global market intelligence director Robert Olivier said employers would have to offer greater incentives to attract and retain staff.

“As people see major parts of their outgoings increase” they would be pushing for more, he said. “They kind of feel they are due it because they have tolerated the tough times and now there is plenty of choice out there.”

The Advantage Job Index recorded a 2.02 per cent national increase in October, but the tech sector dipped by 1.54 per cent.

Peoplebank chief executive Peter Acheson said IT&T recruitment activity had remained steady throughout October and the first week of November.

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