Career

IT Jobs: Planning For An Uncertain 2013

While there are still plenty of employment opportunities in information technology, data suggests that finding a new role will get harder over the next six months. What steps can you take to ensure you still have a job you like that pays well?

The Longhaus-ITCRA Australia Tech Index tracks eight different measurements to capture levels of IT business activity. The latest quarterly figures continue an ongoing although gradual decline, driven largely by a fall in advertised permanent positions and a tendency for contracts to be for shorter periods. As you can see in the graphic, while there aren’t many businesses cutting back altogether, there will be some impact for contractors.

“I think we will see a pretty flat end to 2012,” Longhaus managing director Peter Carr told Lifehacker. “2013 will probably see a bit more positive activity. This year started OK, but we seem to have lost the wind out of our sails. We’re still seeing a lot of planning going on, but once you lose momentum in this industry, it takes a whole to ramp back up.”

That change in attitude impacts some roles more than others. “The stuff we’re seeing at the moment is at the business or systems analyst level. The business analyst has taken over from the lofty heights the enterprise architect occupied a couple of years ago. There’s a move by the business analyst back into that space. A lot of the activity is at a business planning level, not at an application level.”

Carr doesn’t see any reason to panic. “I get a sense we’re almost at this full employment level for IT in Australia. Even though there’s been a lot of talk about layoffs, a lot of the contractors I’ve spoken to are quite happy warming the benches for a few weeks. There’s capacity for people to take a break.”

If you’re thinking of enhancing your skills, Carr sees potential in infrastructure planning. “One of the areas in 2013 and the next few years is obviously going to be some deeper, more detailed planning activity around the replacement of infrastructure that was put in place around 2007 and is getting old now.” Much infrastructure work in this period centred around building data centres for greater energy efficiency.

Cloud is also expanding, but still not widely adopted at enterprise level. “I think in this cycle we’ll see maybe 20 per cent of the market decide to move more into cloud-based infrastructure, but it will be a whole other cycle before we see that broader switch taking place.”

Another growth area is ‘big data’, which is highlighting the usefulness of database knowledge. “The superstars over the next couple of years will be these DBAs with good modelling skills.”

Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.