The antipodes are in the midst of a skills crisis. Growth in the information and communications technology sector is racing ahead. According to the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, ‘over the past decade, investment in Computer Software … has grown steadily and at a faster rate than GDP.’
In fact, Australia and New Zealand have seen an eight-fold increase in technology sector investment since 2011, with a huge portion of that capital going towards ambitious new start-ups and early-stage businesses looking to expand.
So, if you have the skills and experience to set you apart in IT, you may find yourself in high demand among Australian and New Zealand employers. Here’s why the outlook for the IT jobs market in the antipodes is looking so rosy.
The Australian IT sector is currently at the centre of a flurry of investment, with IT research firm Gartner forecasting a 2.8% increase in investment over the next year. This would take the total IT spend to AU$85 billion in 2017 as companies look to grow and innovate.
According to Gartner Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Research Peter Sondergaard;
‘The good news is that there’s incredible opportunities for those companies that innovate, lead, and ultimately succeed in the creation of new digital platforms that meet their customer’s needs better than their competitors.’
It’s therefore not surprising that Australia is a promising place for those looking to secure a well-paid job in the IT sector. But domestic supply of talent is weak. According to leading technology entrepreneur Matt Barrie, the IT industry in Australia is in ‘an absolute crisis’. The number of young Australians working in the tech industry has tumbled, largely thanks to a 40-60% reduction in the number of people studying IT at degree level over the past decade.
‘If there’s one thing we need to do to fix this industry, it’s to get more people into it,’ Barrie said, speaking at the Knowledge Nation summit earlier in the year. Commenting on the decline in young people in the industry, he observed that, ‘This is all in the middle of this historic boom in technology.’
While Barrie’s solution may be to start educating Australians during school, this is obviously going to take a while to bear fruit, assuming his plans were ever approved and implemented.
Indeed, Australia is so desperate for talented people from the IT sector right now that it is considering plans to incentivise qualified people to immigrate to the country. New proposals could see the government award five additional points on the eligibility test to overseas workers with a Doctorate or Masters in Information Technology, amongst other desirable subjects.
So that’s why Australia needs you, but why should you consider a move to Australia?
The country currently outranks the UK in terms of wage pressures, with salaries rising faster across the board. According to the Hays Global Skills Index 2016, Australia scores 6.7 compared to the UK’s 5.1 in terms of wage pressures, showing a significantly faster pace of wage increases. This is a general measure; when looking at the wage growth for high-skill industries alone the gap is narrower, but Australia’s 0.5 lead at 8.0 puts it in an area of the chart that shows wages are racing up.
New Zealand is currently feeling the benefit of a burgeoning technology sector. According to the latest report by NZ Tech, just under 29,000 tech sector firms contributed 8% (NZ$16.2 billion) of New Zealand’s GDP in 2016. 5% of the workforce (98,000) were employed in the sector, with employees the highest paid and most qualified on average of any economic sector.
IT jobs in New Zealand are well-paid and plentiful; the country is currently struggling to fill the demand for talented workers in this sector. While overall wage pressures are significantly lower than the UK on the Hays Global Skills Index 2016 – 2.7 compared to 5.1 – in terms of wage pressures in highly-skilled industries New Zealand is through the roof, scoring a maximum 10 against the UK’s 7.5 and Australia’s 8.
In a foreword to the 2015 Information and Communication Technology report, Hon Steven Joyce, New Zealand’s Minister for Economic Development (amongst other things), noted that;
‘Growth at this speed creates challenges. There is a worldwide shortage of highly skilled IT professionals. More firms in this sector report vacancies, and that vacancies are hard to fill, than any other sector of the economy.’
The difficulty in recruiting is reflected in the kinds of pay-packets you can expect. For example, in 2015 wages in the field of computer system design were double the average salary for New Zealand. Computer systems design had the highest rate of vacancies (84% of companies surveyed reported at least one open position), with the sector also having the highest number of vacancies described as ‘harder to fill’.
Companies with vacancies in computer systems design were more likely to find the applicants lacked the necessary skills or experience than those applying for jobs in other sectors. That creates a perfect opportunity for overseas workers who have the necessary skills and experience.
Australia and New Zealand are both brimming with opportunity. Highly qualified and skilled workers in the IT sector are in high demand, so you will find yourself welcome. The fact that the sector is currently flourishing thanks to an influx of investment means that the career opportunities are numerous.
So, what are you waiting for? A job in IT, with great prospects and wages, is waiting for you. Polish off your CV and start looking at IT vacancies in Australia and New Zealand to supercharge your career.
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