by Rodney Gedda

IT workers stick to their guns through GFC: survey

May 11, 2010

The global financial crisis may have left many people uncertain about their job security, but IT professionals remained stoic and refused to consider an alternative career throughout the downturn, according to new research.

A survey of 2922 IT and telecommunications professionals by recruitment firm Greythorn has indicated people with less than 10 years experience were least likely to consider a career change, trusting that their experience and skills would serve them well as the market rebounded.

Some 85 per cent of IT professionals with between one and 10 years experience and 75 per cent of people with between 11 and 20 years experience said they did not consider an alternate career during the GFC.

Seasoned IT pros with more than 21 year’s experience were less loyal with 69 per cent of people in that demographic not considering a career move.

Greythorn managing director Richard Fischer said IT professionals were right to maintain their confidence through the downturn.

“IT as a function has grown in stature over the past decade to a position where it is now a vital part of every business. As a result IT skills are very highly regarded,” Fischer said.

“Despite considerable IT layoffs being made during the downturn, IT professionals remained comfortable in the fact that when the tide turned employers would once again be clambering over themselves to attract the best IT talent.”

Fisher said business leaders now better understand how fundamental their IT function is to their business success, and IT professionals know how necessary their skills are.

The increased dependency on “cutting edge” IT systems and a skilled IT team were major contributors to the research finding that younger IT professionals were less inclined to be seduced away from IT, according to the survey.

“Younger IT professionals have become accustom to being in demand,” Fisher said. “They fully understand how integral IT is to business, and how much their skills are depended upon. Today an IT qualification is viewed similarly to an accountancy qualification. A well qualified IT professional can transfer their skills across industries as well as across international borders.”

Greythorn’s business activity figures for the first quarter of 2010 show demand for IT professionals has rebounded stronger and faster than for professionals in many other sectors.

“We are at the critical tipping point between candidate demand and candidate availability right now,” Fisher said. “If demand continues to increase as it has during the first part of 2010, and we expect it will, Australia’s critical IT skills shortage will have returned to pre-GFC levels by the end of Q2 this year.”

IT projects postponed during the downturn are now being reinstated and over the next few months employers will be facing the same, if not worse attraction, retention and salary issues they faced during the first half of 2008, according to Greythorn.

The most in-demand IT skills in 2010 include SAP, BI, .Net, project managers, IP telephony and Java.

To remain relevant in today’s market Greythorn recommends updating your formal qualifications and skills regularly, work on developing stronger communication skills and to be “business savvy” so you can offer an informed opinion on how to improve a business process when required.