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Employers hold the cards in IT

LIKE other professionals, information technology workers have their fair share of specialist knowledge and skills.

But for the past year, IT professionals have been struggling to find employment, owing to both a surfeit of candidates for jobs and cutbacks in IT expenditure by specialist firms and the broader business community.

This has meant that salaries for workers in this industry have generally remained steady, and although some positions continue to attract high salaries, many IT workers feel less valued in both a financial and professional sense.

In other words, there’s no better time than now to hire IT staff – the demand/supply ratio is firmly in employers’ favour.

Application programming is one area of IT that has held up, according to David Baillie, the manager of computing at hiring agency CPE. He says his firm is currently a lot busier than it was three months ago, and the permanent placement market in particular, as opposed to the contract market, is improving.

When it comes to hiring, however, managers need to pay close attention to matching staff to the culture of the workplace.

“Multimedia people are quite artistic and there’s a lot of flair involved compared to jobs like administration and code-cutting,” Mr Baillie said.

Gryphon Consulting managing director Tony Ciallela despairs at the fact his firm has experienced its worst year of the past 10.

While hopeful of a turnaround in the next six to 12 months, at present, the whole spectrum of IT workers – from graduates to veterans – were facing stiff competition for work, he said.

“The discerning buyers and investors in IT are now holding IT companies and professionals to account,” Mr Ciallela said.

“They’re basically saying they’ve spent a lot of money on this technology stuff and they want it to deliver.

“We’ve been caught short and have not delivered, and I think we’re paying the price for that.”

Rebecca Ockerby, a senior consultant at Hays Personnel, said there had been a change in the way many firms now recruited IT staff, particularly for lower-level jobs.

She said many business operators and managers who were not IT-trained were becoming more knowledgeable about office networks, and they therefore were more confident about hiring people themselves, rather than recruiting through agencies.

“I haven’t had a (help desk) job … for two months now,” Ms Ockerby said.

”You see it advertised so there must be some work out there, but the demand for it is such that clients do the hiring themselves rather than go to agencies.”

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