All I want for Christmas is a big fat pay rise
Sitting pretty? ... the ICT jobs market is only excellent in parts. Photo: iStock
While recruiters and contractors bemoan the becalmed state of the country's ICT jobs market, new figures reveal some high-tech folk are sitting very pretty.
An ICT program manager in the NSW energy and utilities sector is earning more than $500K, according to the Candle Salary Intelligence report, which is based on data collated at an interactive salary portal launched by the recruiter in July.
Salaries next year will be curtailed for all but the most sought-after skill sets.Andrew Cross, Ambition Technology
In Victoria, a project director with 10 years' internet industry experience receives $422K while the top-earning contractor was a senior business analyst in the financial services sector making $500 an hour.
The Scrooge approach to hiring and remuneration looks set to hold sway in 2013. Photo: ImageMovers Digital
Best payers overall are the financial services and telecoms industries, with ICT staff in these sectors receiving average salaries of $95,496 and $95,116 respectively.
Candle's MySalaryPortal.com allows IT pros to list their salary or rate anonymously across 28 contract and permanent job categories and to date 7600 ICT workers have done so.
Supplied figures were likely to represent packages rather than base salaries, with many senior types pulling hefty completion bonuses for large projects, according to Candle executive general manager Linda Trevor.
Data had been submitted by real people and, "we can only assume it's correct", Trevor said.
IT pros on $500K packages were in a tiny minority, she said, and most would be industry veterans with 20 to 30 years' experience.
Packages of this size are most commonly found in the finance world or with large vendors such as IBM.
But like the proverbial curate's egg, the ICT jobs market is only excellent in parts.
For those further down the tree, there appears little hope of such largesse in the year ahead. Rather, the Scrooge approach to hiring and remuneration looks set to hold sway in 2013.
Trevor said the last quarter of 2012 had been "very difficult for everyone", with contractors stranded on the bench and companies procrastinating rather than committing to large projects.
Static salaries will be the order of the day for most in 2013, while for those in Queensland they've dropped 10 per cent, courtesy of the Newman government's cutback on public sector contractors earlier this year, Trevor said.
Ambition Technology CEO Andrew Cross shares Trevor's pessimism.
"I think that salaries next year will be curtailed for all but the most sought-after skill sets," Cross said.
"It's true people may feel they are under-paid and over-worked but the reality is that there are a number of highly skilled under and unemployed individuals in the marketplace who are going to keep supply higher than demand and therefore salaries and rates in check."
Senior executives were unlikely to find quick relief in the new year, with a number already citing poor 2012 bonuses and expecting lower-than-normal annual reviews in the year to come, Cross added.
The recruiters' comments are at odds with recent industry assertions that the ICT market will be under-resourced if more young people are not funnelled down the high-tech path.
Figures released last month by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) revealed the number of students graduating from ICT courses had halved over the past decade; a drop-off the society expects to presage significant skills shortages.
Lack of resources has been cited by industry players as justification for the widespread use of 457 visas, which allow companies to import skilled foreign workers for up to four years.
Along with the practice of off-shoring projects to developing countries, use of the visas has angered many ICT workers who believe the market has been eroded by companies rorting the system to import workers on lower rates.
CEO of the ACS, Alan Patterson, was bullish about the year ahead. The society's annual remuneration survey showed ICT salaries grew by 3.9 per cent between May 2011 and 2012 and the forthcoming year could see similar gains, he said.
"Senior talent, particularly with corporate and commercial skills, will continue to be highly sought after as more organisations embrace digital," Patterson said.
Salary set by Scrooge or Santa Claus? Share your job market predictions for 2013 below.