Employers are clawing back control in the IT recruitment market and are taking advantage of the downturn to prune salaries and lift the overall quality of their IT workforce, according to a new study.
The annual Clicks IT Recruitment and Retention Report shows a marked decline in the number of organisations planning to increase their permanent and contract IT headcount (29% compared with 41% a year ago) and a profound drop in hiring intentions in the private sector.
The study also shows a dampening in salary expectations in the sector, with average salary increases for permanent IT employees expected to drop to 2.9 per cent from 4.6 per cent last year.
For IT contractors, the outlook is even more downbeat, with employers expected to push for decreases in rates and shorter duration contracts.
"IT contractors - who have been in high demand over the past five years - can expect their pay rates cut by five-to-ten per cent and their contracts shortened," says Clicks IT Recruitment managing director, Ben Wood.
"Senior IT project managers currently command between $1,000 and $1,200 per day, but employers will be looking to reduce this to $800 - $1,000."
Wood says the number of employers looking to increase their permanent headcount has fallen significantly (by 5 percentage points), but is buoyed by the number of federal government departments that plan to increase their proportion of permanent IT staff, following recommendations in the Gershon Review to reduce IT contractor numbers.
Wood says the study also reveals a change in attitude from IT professionals to favour permanent roles over contracting. Permanent IT staff are also now far more reluctant to consider a job change, he says.
"If they have a permanent position they are staying put, opting for security over the lure of a fresh challenge. Contractors are scrambling, with many prepared to forego their independence, flexibility, and diversity of roles to take up permanent positions."
The study, which is now in its tenth year, also shows:
22 per cent of the 200 companies surveyed retrenched some IT staff last year;
18 per cent expect to be forced into making redundancies this year; and
IT departments are responding to the economic environment by reducing expenditure, with 31 per cent planning to reduce budgets and only 27 per cent planning an increase.
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