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Business as usual for ICT sector, according to tech index

The ICT sector has enjoyed 'business as usual' conditions in the third and fourth quarters of 2012, in spite of the difficult employment conditions facing the broader Australian economy, according to the latest Longhaus-ITCRA Australian Tech Index.

The Index is a composite of eight indicators which together provide a summary of changes in the level of ICT business activity within Australia. It draws on information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the Australian Stock Exchange and ITCRA's SkillsMatch data.

Longhaus managing director, Peter Carr, said seven of the eight indicators measured were positive, meaning they maintained or increased activity in the third quarter of 2012.

"Traditionally, the July to September quarter of any given year provides an important gauge of the health of the ICT sector, as the beginning of the new financial year means the renewal of employment contracts and the start of new budgets," Carr said ina statement.

"The CIO Poll, a forward looking survey conducted by Longhaus, found an increased intention by CIOs and ICT decision makers to commence new ICT and business projects. There was also a slight increase in CIO confidence for the fourth quarter of 2012, suggesting promising times ahead," he said.

However, the ICT professionals' vacancies indicator continued to decline. ICT vacancies for September, as measured by DEEWR in its Internet Vacancy Index for ICT professionals, fell for the eighth consecutive month. ITCRA CEO, Julie Mills, said the number of online ICT vacancies during the third quarter fell to a record low level since DEEWR began reporting in 2006.

"Data regarding placements made by recruiters is more positive, albeit mixed. ITCRA's most recent SkillsMatch Dashboard, which measured placements made by ITCRA Member recruiters in the third quarter of 2012, found that placements had been relatively steady throughout the past 12 months," Mills said in statement.

"While data released by other organisations has been less positive, no one reported significant increases in ICT placements during 2012, leading ITCRA and Longhaus to conclude that the ICT sector in this regard is mirroring the broader 'steady as she goes' sentiment in the Australian economy," she said.

With the exception of ICT placements, activity within the ICT sector continued at comparable levels to previous quarters.

"The most recent, publically available unemployment figures indicate that ICT professionals have benefited from low unemployment, in comparison to most occupations," Mills said. "In a labour market where demand exceeds supply, salaries and wages are more likely to head up than down. This is certainly the case in Australia, where ICT professionals have seen an average 3.9 per cent increase in salaries in the calendar year to mid-2012," she said.

"Overall, the Longhaus-ITCRA Australian Tech Index reveals the ICT sector is currently performing as expected. A reduction in ICT vacancies and a decline in hiring intentions represent a softening of the ICT labour market, but this is not out of context with the total Australian labour market," Carr said.

"With economists tipping a rise in the unemployment rate to 5.75 per cent by mid-2013, the ICT sector is expected to continue to outperform the market," he said.


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