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All I want for Christmas is a big fat pay rise

Date

Sylvia Pennington

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Sitting pretty? ... the ICT jobs market is only excellent in parts.

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.

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.

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.

15 comments so far

  • It isn't all about the salary. I've been in a rut, professionally, for about five years or so; very little training and learning, no broadening of my skills. Most employers, especially the big companies (IBM, and its ilk) are less interested in training staff than they are in getting the job done as cheaply as possible, where "done" is defined as "the customer will pay us", not "the customer is happy with the end result". I get paid well, mind, with a salary that is well above the median, but the job satisfaction just hasn't been there for too long.

    That said, I'm lucky; I've recently landed a new gig that should see this change in the coming years, and I'm keen to break into new areas and demonstrate that no, I'm not a one trick pony. But realistically, attitudes towards staff development desperately need to change, or we WILL face severe staff shortages.

    That's before you get into the whole question of quality, and outsourcing overseas ...

    My general prognosis on IT: poor to bad, for some years to come.

    Commenter
    sjl
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    December 14, 2012, 1:57PM
    • For those readers happliy employed and insulated from the realities of the job market, the Sydney ICT job market has been dead since Sep 2011, so stay in your jobs.

      I have been actively looking for work as an Infrastructure Transition, Transformation, Program Manager / Director for 12 months. I have turned around large programs on Tier 1 key accounts for over 10 years, yet for every role I now apply for I'm either too old, too experienced, or lack experience in a specific industry or product.

      In 95% of cases IT recruiters dont even return calls for jobs advertised, since they will only talk to people who they believe can help them earn their commission.

      Ageism seems to be very strong in the markey given that most recruiters and female and in their 20's, so candidates in their 40s (mature age workers) are frequently overlooked for roles. If you are in your 40's and in a role you dont like, my advise is dont try to move until the market picks up in few years, likely 2015.

      Personally, if I dont pickup a role in the next 3 months I will need to sell up and relocate to Asia.

      I find it hard to believe reports of ICT resource shortages when highly experienced, multi award winning people with Executive MBAs from top Australian universities are leaving Australia due to lack of work.

      My advise to students considering studying IT is to look at otherwise industries where the demand is always high (e.g. Medicine, etc...)

      Commenter
      Sydney Infrastructure Program Manager/Director
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 14, 2012, 2:56PM
      • You sum up the situation well. There is very little investment, therefore little demand for experienced resources. It is the result of weak and unimaginative government that doesn't understand why Australia desperately needs investment, foreign or otherwise, to stimulate an economy that is stagnant.

        Commenter
        WillD
        Date and time
        December 15, 2012, 10:38AM
      • I took a redundancy 4 months ago and have no problem finding work. I am a L3 sysadmin and am finding heaps of work around. I have kept my skills current and my contacts current. The work I have been doing I haven't even been interviewed for as the vendor already knows me so always keep your networking alive and current!

        Commenter
        Les
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        December 16, 2012, 11:16AM
      • I'm confused, what industry experience or product experience do you need for the role of "Infrastructure Transition, Transformation, Program Manager / Director"?

        Industry should be no factor for infrastructure work, and who wants product experience in a program manager / director?

        Commenter
        Bardman
        Date and time
        December 16, 2012, 5:23PM
    • I am onsite in the trenches with many different companies on a daily basis in my role as a consultant all over ANZ and I can say one thing, it is not uncommon to see one or two very highly paid positions in organisations while the rest are very poorly paid. Some admins/architects or Team Leaders earn 5 x what their colleagues get paid at other companies and don't deserve it. I have run into amazingly brilliant, focused, hard working people at some companies and they are getting paid peanuts and not complaining - it's quite sick to see.

      Commenter
      Mark
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 14, 2012, 3:36PM
      • Wow $512,000! I wonder if it would wash if an employer advertised $100K and I demanded $102,400 rather than the $100k they thought they were offering.

        Commenter
        Infostud
        Date and time
        December 14, 2012, 3:54PM
        • As contractor I am earning less per hour than back in 06, Public Service Permies continue to get their 5% pa, despite the GFC. I haven't seek any 150K + a year salaries on seek lately. I will have to point out the 500K salaries to the next recruitment dude who thinks I should be drooling at an offer of 100K in the private sector.

          Commenter
          5OOkmya
          Date and time
          December 16, 2012, 3:10PM
      • They are still prattling on about "skill shortages"? There are no skill shortages in IT in Australia, just shortages of employers willing to employ graduates and willing to pay more than minimum wage. Walk into any telecom's tech support department in Australia and you will find 50+ IT graduates whom could do your job blind folded but cannot find a job in IT. Instead they spend their days telling old ladies to "turn your modem off and on" while they hope to get one of the few internal IT jobs that opens up.

        My advice to IT graduates in Australia; leave, there are plenty of jobs around Asia and the Americas and you will get paid your worth.

        Commenter
        Baz_Mattaz
        Date and time
        December 14, 2012, 6:07PM
        • I'm on a $138k package with a large company in the ICT space. (I am sacrificing salary for life style as I have 2 young kids at the moment). If you like moving around due to being retrenched IT is a great carrier. I have had 2 packages so far. After being in a position for 4 years in the first job and 6 in the second. I have been in my current role for almost 3 years now and expect to get a package in a couple more years. It doesn't matter how good you are, after my first package I ended up back in the same role a couple of weeks later at contract rates (2.5 times my previous salary) for 3 more years so I don't think the quality of my work was the trigger for getting retrenched. So yes, sometimes you end up in a position earning mega (relatively) bucks.

          Best advice I could give anyone is to work on their relationship and networking skills. As this will be what gets you into your next position after you get a package, which, if you are in the ICT industry, will happen sooner or later.

          Commenter
          Bob
          Date and time
          December 15, 2012, 10:20AM

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