Demand for overseas skilled IT professionals in Australia is set to continue over the coming years as large public sector upgrades get underway.
Australia’s IT industry is bracing itself for a serious skills shortage, with more than a thousand of IT new positions to be filled in 2012.
Major system enhancement projects across all of Australia’s federal agencies, and the corporate sector gearing up for a 10 year refresh means that there is a chronic shortage of skilled IT staff across Australia.
The shortage is also beginning to affect IT project delivery times and this is having the effect of driving up salaries, creating highly paid IT job opportunities.
According to Jim Ellis, vice president of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), Australia’s ICT skills shortage, particularly in Western Australia, is forcing employers to bring in overseas workers.
In Western Australia there are more vacancies for ICT staff in the mining and resources sector than there are for engineers.
But as well as earning higher wages, those working in the IT sector are also working longer hours. The ACS’s 2011 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Employment Survey shows the number of ICT professionals working more than 40 hours a week has risen to 74.9% compared to 65% in the last survey in 2009.
ACS chief executive officer Alan Patterson said the increase in working hours, which are above the prescribed working week of 35 hours, could be partly attributed to people trying to ensure job security.
Over a third, 36.4%, of respondents claimed they had worked more than 45 hours per week and a further 21.3% reported working 50 or more hours per week compared to just over 10% in 2009.
According to a new report, The Means to Compete: Benchmarking IT industry Competitiveness, from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), along with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, Australia provides the most positive competitive conditions for IT firms in the Asia Pacific region, ranking third.
The EIU report also ranks Australia fifth in the world in terms of the overall competitiveness of its IT industry, along with the US topping the index table, then Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, respectively.
Australia also performed extremely well in terms of advanced IT and communications infrastructure as it was ranked fourth in the world, preceded only by the US, Canada, and Switzerland and ranked first in Asia Pacific.