Demand for IT contract work reshaping Australian tech industry.

Taking the contract.

Research from Robert Half has found skilled IT professionals are transferring to the contract market as more companies utilise such roles to manage digital transformation initiatives. According to an independent survey of 160 CIOs in Australia two in three (66 per cent) CIOs are hiring contractors to upgrade their company’s digital transformation efforts, while 78 per cent of CIOs agree that contract workers provide a valuable solution to Australia’s IT skills shortage.

The rapid pace of digitisation is generating strong demand for IT skillsets, particularly in a market where skilled IT talent is in short supply, CIOs are overwhelmingly turning to contractors to fill the skills gap. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of Australian CIOs say experienced interim/contract IT professionals have become increasingly important to manage their company’s digital transformation initiatives. Contingent jobs currently represent almost a third of all job ads and have shown a 4.9 per cent increase in demand across industries in 2019 to surpass permanent vacancies, according to the SunSuper Australian Job index. For companies, employing IT staff on a project basis provides access to niche, low supply skills such as blockchain, natural language processing, or full-stack development as required which can offset the higher salaries these sought-after specialist skills command.

“Given the rate with which technology evolves CIOs need to execute strategic projects quickly and efficiently in order to remain competitive,” said Andrew Morris, director of Robert Half Australia. “They are increasingly turning to experienced IT contractors to achieve these initiatives and upskill their permanent teams in the process. Professionals equipped with in-demand skills are therefore well-positioned to turn this demand into competitive job opportunities and should genuinely consider if transitioning to contract work is the next logical step in their career.”

The 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide found there are specific roles and skillsets in higher demand on an interim/contract basis than permanent, in order for businesses to quickly gain access to niche skills in order to keep pace with technological change. In particular, demand for contingent cyber-security continues to grow as companies invest in rapid security initiatives for their IT infrastructure systems. Overall, the top five in demand roles are: IT Security Specialist, Project Manager, Business Intelligence Analyst, Systems Engineer and Business Intelligence Analyst.

“IT professionals across all age groups are recognising the advantages of contracting. However, millennials are typically more comfortable with the variable nature of contract work than older generations. Gen Y technology professionals are also attracted to the flexible nature of contracting and the opportunity for accelerated career growth and are often less concerned about climbing the corporate ladder within the same organisation,” concluded Morris.

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