We try and make some sense of the plethora of reports on the IT job market.

Have you noticed the spate of articles this year reporting on the current mood of employment in the IT sector? Every month a different recruitment firm releases a survey it has conducted on the market, assessing what jobs are in demand and if salaries are on the rise. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised as it obviously is the surest way of securing publicity for recruitment firms, however it can get a bit confusing for job seekers.

A quick check of the surveys released this year shows from March to June there was at least one survey or report released every month, sometimes two, by different recruitment firms, including Michael Page Technology, Robert Walters Recruitment, IT Skills Hub, Oliver Group, Hays IT Personnel, and Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

In the hope of clarity, here is a summary of what each firm is projecting for 2004:

Mercer Human Resources: As of last month, this company says IT is a great place to start a career and reports that the base salaries are higher than other industries, but the increases aren’t as significant so within a few years the other industries catch up. MHR also proclaims salaries could rise as a result of a skills shortage in emerging technology. Ahhhh, the old skills shortage again, like we haven’t heard that before.

Oliver: This recruitment company last month slated that there was only a small improvement in the IT&T job market between April and May. Apparently the best performing jobs were system administration and support.

In April the company said the job market was looking up for graduates, with the IT sector looking relatively strong overall. It reported the highest growth in software development and engineering.

IT Skills Hub: In April the IT Skills Hub, an organisation developed by the government in conjunction with the industry representatives, projected the number of advertised IT jobs up until June this year would increase by 25 percent when compared with the number of IT jobs advertised in the last six months of 2003. The organisation projected jobs in security, risk management, open source software, systems integration, and project management would be the most in demand.

As for salaries, the IT Skills Hub reported an average increase of five percent so far in 2004. It said the highest paid jobs in IT are in sales and marketing, with security showing the highest percentage increase. Unfortunately for hardware engineers, this group reported the highest percentage decrease.

IT workers can expect to see a five to 10 percent payrise, except in Sydney.

Michael Page Technology: In April MPT reported that IT salaries should rise this year, especially in the areas of security, CRM, and business intelligence. An MPT spokesperson helpfully advised IT workers not to expect salaries to return to the high levels experienced in the dot-com days, making him the one hundred thousandth person to say that. Obviously IT workers may be smart enough to get high-paying jobs, but they are too dumb to have grasped reality in the last four years.

Hays IT Personnel: The recruitment firm in May said there has been a definite increase and demand for IT employees since last Christmas, however it is only for a select few jobs such as VoIP engineers, business intelligence analysts, and developers. The good news for everyone else is that employers reported they were expecting to increase salaries between three and 10 percent. Perhaps now is the time to ask your employer if he/she responds to Hays IT Personnel surveys…

Robert Walters Recruitment: RWR reported a slight increase in IT this year, with Web developers and mainframe operators having the most to look forward to. However overall the IT salaries in Sydney have remained fairly static, and in Melbourne IT staff are generally underpaid. Also, according to the company, demand for experienced project managers is on the rise.

So, IT workers can expect to see a five to 10 percent payrise, except in Sydney. And in Melbourne the rise will just take you to average market levels. The jobs in demand are in the areas of security, Web development, mainframe operation, sys admin, VoIP engineers, business intelligence, risk management, project management, and more.

Clear as mud. What do you think?

This article was first published in Technology & Business magazine.
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