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Published on September 22nd, 2011 | by john.weir

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IT skills in demand in Western Australia and Victoria

A chronic shortage of skilled ICT staff in Western Australia spells opportunity for job seekers, says IT News.

The state faces a “massive capability and skills shortage” across the board, and comes just after Victoria announced they were adding more ICT jobs to their State Migration Plan.

Jim Ellis, vice president of the Australian Computer Society, said Western Australia was “far more affected” by Australia’s ICT skills shortage than other states.
“There is a pent up demand [in other states], but nothing like the situation here, where we are forced to bring people in on 457 visas,” he told the ACS’ West Australian Branch conference.
“It’s a situation where there are more vacancies for ICT staff in the resources sector than there are for engineers.”
Local recruiters and employers say graduates exiting ICT degrees often lack the language and other interpersonal skills to become effective team members as IT roles blur with business functions.

“There is absolutely no question there is an ICT skills shortage,” says Gary Trinder, CIO at Edith Cowan University, citing requirements at Serco’s IT outsourcer British Telecom to hire another 150 IT staff and an oil and gas firm requiring an additional 60 workers over the next 12 months.

The problem, says Ellis, is a huge spike in demand for ICT skills driven by Western Australia’s dramatic resources expansion.

“Previously, the mining oil and gas industries didn’t invest much in ICT,” says Ellis. “Now the ICT infrastructure in mining, oil and gas companies is absolutely critical to the way they operate. They simply cannot operate without it.”

Michael Scott, a director at Deloitte Consulting in Perth, said that “all major and mid-tier resources firms” had large IT capital-intensive plans in the next three to five years.

“They are facing a massive capability and skills shortage.”

Those firms have spent large sums of money building out scheduling systems and automation capabilities to reduce dependence on fly in labour, he said, which had swept up project managers and other skilled IT staff from competing industries.

ASG, one of the primary IT service providers to the Western Australian Government, says it is difficult to find skilled full-time workers.

“At the interview stage, a skilled candidate tends to already have two or three offers on the table,” said Martinette Van Vuuren, recruitment manager at ASG.

Aware that the numbers are on their side, skilled ITC staff tended to push for better pay and conditions, with ICT salaries in Western Australia up 4% in 2011, versus 3.3% rises across the rest of Australia, says ACS.

Candidates also pushed for consulting or contracting roles, said Van Vuuren.

“But the nature of our business is to hire permanent staff. We are hiring to fulfil managed service contracts – for roles in which our staff closely partner with the client.”

The Western Australian government will be at Down Under Live on the 24th and 25th September in Birmingham, so come an meet them to find out about jobs and a new life in Perth.

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