A new skills index released this week suggests CIOs should ditch the \u2018wait-and-see\u2019 contract approach to IT recruitment in the face of increasing offshore opportunities.\nThe latest Candle Skills Index for Computing Professionals indicates skilled IT professionals are being lured offshore by immediate and lucrative job opportunities. The index shows that while number of skilled professionals employed in the sector in the next five years will grow by 3700, there will be a continued shortfall of 1200.\nAccording to the index the existing shortage in IT professionals stands at about 1100 \u2014 a figure that Candle expects to persist at the aggregate level, out of a pool of about 212,000 professionals. But it could intensify in the face of a strong Asia-Pacific market, as Australian professionals move to lucrative overseas IT functions.\nAlso: What are you worth? - ICT salaries.\nCandle executive general manager, Linda Trevor, said Australian employers are increasingly hiring on a contractor rather than permanent basis or putting employment decisions on hold.\n\u201cThis flow-on IT \u2018brain drain\u2019 is threatening an already skills short industry as job prospects and competitive remuneration packages entice Australian IT professionals overseas,\u201d she said.\n\u201cThe performance of the Australian economy to a large extent drives growth in this labour market. It is likely that previous economic conditions had caused companies to rethink their hiring strategies, making them hesitant to recruit additional staff particularly those with less or no experience."\nTrevor said companies were increasingly looking for experienced ICT contractors in place of permanent staff in order to add to their workforce for current projects without having to commit themselves to permanent hires.\n\u201cEmployers continuing to exercise caution when it comes to hiring candidates are in danger of losing local skills should they wait too long to attract and secure talent,\u201d he said.\nThe Candle Skills Index shows strongest demand in:\nNetwork engineers;\nProject managers;\nBusiness analysts; and\nDevelopers.\nThe west coast resources boom is also having an impact, according to Candle.\nState by state findings\nSouth Australia: Business analysts and project managers were in high demand over the past six months, due to the increasing shift towards Cloud computing. General demand for IT services slowed in Adelaide as many companies shift operations offshore to Asia. And the state is also being affected by the fact that a number of leading corporations are currently transferring their IT functions overseas, mainly Asia.\nACT: High demand for business analysts, offering 30 per cent salary increases. The federal government is also seeking 1000 professionals this financial year which is expected to impact the ACT and Victorian ICT markets as the National Broadband Network project continues to roll out. This trend is also being seen in Queensland with added demands coming from the Health Industries.\nNSW: The skills shortage is expected to increase as demand from the banking and financial Services industry increases over the next 12 months. This is coupled with increased infrastructure activity announced in the NSW State budget.\n\u201cDue to a number of key projects currently underway, the NSW government is currently sourcing specialist ICT services external to their current C100 Contingent Workforce providers due to the lack of required skills in the marketplace,\u201d Trevor said.\nWestern Australia: Employers are paying higher wages and developing skills from within their current workforce to address demands for multiple ICT skills and the exit of young Asian graduates, particularly from India, Singapore and Hong Kong, back to their homelands as word spreads that experience is a premium expectation in WA.\nVictoria: The Melbourne market is currently busier than it was 12 months ago, with a number of high profile projects from NAB, Telstra and IBM creating the demand for particularly contract staff.\nCandle Skills Index uses analysis by KPMG Econtech based on ABS and DEEWR data. Candle is a business arm of the ASX-listed Clarius Group (CND).