IT recruiters are upbeat about what they see as a growing demand for IT professionals in Australia.
Andrew Keayes, national practice manager of IT&T at recruitment firm Hudson Global Resources, described the October quarter as the busiest he has seen in about four years.
Keayes attributes this to a couple of factors. He believes there is a greater overall confidence, with people spending on IT to grow their business, rather than just maintain it.
"There are a number of projects just being commissioned -- [we're] now getting a lot of demand for business analysts," he said. "[That is] usually a signal people are putting business plans on the drawing board and looking at what they can do next year."
In the enterprise space, Keayes said there has been demand for skillsets such as business analysts, project managers, testers, .NET developers and some support roles.
Keayes said he had also seen a strong demand in the telecommunications sector, in areas such as billing, network surveillance, CRM expertise and also business analysis.
"The CRM implementations are a sign of 'we want to capture market share'...you didn't see a lot of that two years ago."
He also envisages growth in demand for IT professionals continuing, being "steady and consistent for the next 12 months".
Some IT recruitment specialists also believe that the market has improved during 2004.
Bob Olivier, director at retention and recruitment specialist Olivier Group, told iTnews that he had seen the IT sector continuing to improve on a monthly basis. In part Olivier credited this to resurgence in projects and corporates committing more budget to IT projects.
Olivier used the example of banks, where he said it was finding a lot of roles for business analysts and project managers. He still thinks there is a relative oversupply of candidates, which means those looking for jobs need to have better soft skills and understanding about the business implications of IT projects.
While Olivier said he didn't expect a "wow market" next year, he envisages continued improvement in demand. In particular, he sees a growing demand for graduates as companies begin to recommit to their graduate programs.
He quoted research from the company's Olivier Internet Job Index which found that in the last three months one of the areas that had been strongest was software development jobs, with a 24.9 percent increase in the number of jobs advertised weekly on major job boards.
Peter Zonnevylle, team manager at Candle ICT Recruitment agrees there has been an increase in demand for IT professionals. "[The] increase in demand has been steady since January -- what we're seeing is steady sustainable demand, rather than spikes."
But Zonnevylle has also found that quality candidates have been more difficult to find, because those people had multiple opportunities. Rates and salaries were also starting to creep back up, he added.
Areas he saw as in-demand skillsets at the moment included information security, .NET, Java/J2EE and SAP.
Between now and the New Year, Zonnevylle thinks the IT job market will be fairly buoyant, with the usual seasonal changes between Christmas and mid-January as decision makers who might be hiring are on holiday.
"I think our biggest struggle at the moment is finding good quality candidates ...because pure and simple the demand has come back," he said. "We're having to work harder and smarter to find them." Zonnevylle said this involved finding candidates through other methods, such as networking, as well as putting ads on job boards.