Over the last few weeks I have become very concerned about the state of the recruitment industry in Australia, in particular around IT although the comments will also hold true of other industries. I am preparing a few posts to work through the issues, mostly for my purposes but others might also benefit. (Had to put this disclaimer in after the build up at Recruiting.com.)
While the last few years have been very difficult within the IT industry in Australia things are starting to look up. The demand for good technical talent is up, news reports have been flowing for several weeks now about the needs. This growth in demand is resulting in salaries begining to rise, sometimes for the first time in 4 or 5 years, 7.9% for the first half of the year. We are also seeing sign on bonuses being paid again, up to 10% for mid level and 100% for senior executive. To me this indicates a hot job market that is going to make it very hard to find good quality talent and recruiters are going to have start looking at the old passive candidate or new graduates to fill the gaps.
Enrollments in IT courses at universities have been falling for several years now, with most states reporting a fall of over 40% since 2001, causing several institutions either to shut or significantly downsize the IT faculty. Monash Uni, one of the biggest IT faculties has laid off the equivalent of 22 full time teaching positions in the past year alone, with more predicited to go!
IT as a career has lost the shine that it had in the 90’s when we could not get enough graduates, I suspect the dot com bust has had a significant factor to play in this. Most kids who are graduating from high school today would have been 13 or 14 during the blow out, old enough to remember. They were the ones who were fuelling the growth in consumer usage of technology and have had access to enough information to understand the state of the IT sector. Salaries have been falling, job security evaporated, growth in outsourcing and if you had a job you kept your head down and rode out the down cycle. Now the industry has decided to grow in the last few months without a sufficient supply of new graduates.
The industry has a 3 year lead time for university graduates and usually another 2 before they have “experience” and can “add value” to an organisation or project. IT budgets changes every 12 months and can go up at any time. On top of this technical skills and techniques can change overnight. If I was to review an IT course from 2001 would it have covered AJAX, .Net, J2EE, XML, RSS, Web Services, security technologies that are required today? Some might have been discussed but would they have been taught? Some techniques/technologies like AJAX, are brand new. This is not a jab at the professionals who teach but more a recognition that things change rapidly and it can be very difficult to keep up, even once you are in the industry. I am not even going to open the door to business applications skills in areas such as ERP, CRM and BI as things get even more complex and in general the same can be said.
So where to now……