Business confidence among Australian CEOs has declined and 41 per cent are planning to get rid of staff this year with 73 per cent looking to bring down costs in 2016, according to a survey by professional services firm PwC. Yet, other research suggests companies are still keen on recruiting IT professionals to expand their technology teams.
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PwC interviewed 1400 CEOs for its 19th Annual Global CEO Survey. Fifty respondents were from Australia's biggest companies including executives from Wesfarmers and Mirvac. Along with a not-so-bright outlook on their businesses' growth prospects, only one-third of CEOs are expecting to see revenue increase this year. This will resulted in plans to get rid of employees to bring down costs, according to PwC.
But it appears IT jobs are relatively safe from the culling that is expected to occur in 2016. In fact, many companies are looking to hire new IT talent and are struggling to find them. In a survey of businesses big and small by recruitment agency Robert Half, 87 per cent of Australian CTOs and CIOs are actually confident in their company's growth opportunities this year and nearly half of them will expand their technology teams between January and June.
"The focus lies strongly on generating growth, which translates into new technology projects, expansion of the services offered and system implementations, etc.," Robert Half senior managing director for Asia-Pacific said in a statement. "Technology advancements are driving business change, delivering growth and innovation across multiple sectors, prompting the need for additional IT talent.
"There is therefore a continued demand for specialist IT roles which is set to continue in 2016."
Medium-sized companies have the highest growth expectations with 51 per cent of technology managers planning to bump up numbers their teams. But there is anxiety over finding and retaining competent IT professionals. Around 93 per cent of respondents said it is challenging to find skilled IT and technology professionals with 87 per cent concerned about losing key IT employees this year.
Their fears seem justified. Not only has there been a skills shortage in the IT industry for a long time, a new report by professional services company Hudson shows that 66 per cent of Australian workers are mulling the idea of a new job this year. The report also reaffirmed that there is going to be a lot of opportunities available for IT professionals with 46 per cent of businesses surveyed planning to increase headcount in IT.
If you want to drill down on what IT specialties are highly sought after by employers, LinkedIn recently released its Hottest Skills list which shows "statistical analysis and data mining", "middleware and integration software" and "network and information security" coming in at first, second and fifth place, respectively.
The Robert Half survey also showed CIOs and CTOs have difficulty finding IT talent to fill data/database management, software development, networking and IT security roles. Roughly 37 per cent of respondents cited the lack of technical niche experts as the primary reason for difficulty in finding skilled IT professionals.