Looking for a new ICT role? Information Age talks to leading ICT recruitment specialist Luke Singleton of Spark Recruitment about the hardest roles to fill in the Australian market, what ICT students should be studying to meet future job demand, and whether having a university degree still matters.
IA: Which ICT jobs are hot at the moment?
Luke: The main demand we have is for developers, IT security specialists, cloud engineers, DevOps engineers, scrum masters and business analysts.
IA: What skills are employers looking for right now?
Luke: Strong technical skills but also an ability to understand how technology adds value to the business. Strong problem solving and critical thinking skills are a becoming a key part of the hiring equation.
IA: Do you feel there is enough of a focus on ‘soft skills’ in ICT roles?
Luke: There is absolutely a focus. IT professionals have to add value to the businesses that they are representing. This is all about soft skills.
IA: What ICT roles are difficult to fill in Australia? Is there a shortage of qualified professionals in any particular ICT discipline?
Overall, there is a structural issue for the technology industry in Australia as we don’t produce enough graduates in the field.
IA: There’s a lot of talk about coding at the moment. Is the demand for coders in the real world still there?
Luke: Yes, this is an area of strong demand, especially when you are looking at web and mobile-based applications. There is also a lot of coding involved in the AI/Big data field.
IA: Which entry level ICT jobs pay the most? What would they earn first year out of uni?
Luke: We tend to focus more at the experienced level. Having said this, we’ve seen salaries ranging from $40K through to $65-70K for post graduate entrants. Higher salaries go to IT engineering candidates (software/security).
IA: Do you bring in global ICT experts for local ICT roles, and if so, is this an increasing trend?
We have a limited number of clients who are open to bringing in overseas IT professionals. The vast majority prefer to hire from within the local talent pool.
There is a strong preference for at least 12 months on-shore experience.
The clients that we work with who are open to offering sponsorship are typically high profile tech houses who want the best people, irrespective of where they are from. Their selection processes are arduous so they are very difficult to get into.
IA: Thousands of students are shortly beginning university studies, and many of those will be in ICT disciplines. What do you recommend they should be studying to meet future demand of employers?
Luke: As we are seeing more and more often, there is a huge shift happening in the labour market as a whole. Automation is consuming jobs so the jobs that will exist in five years will need very different skills to jobs of today.
Key areas are going to be around data analytics, software, security and cloud. Some futurists are also focusing on the human interaction aspect, that is, the point where humans and technology meet.
There is also a shift towards the gig economy, so this will change the skills required as more people will work in a freelance capacity.
IA: How much does a university degree matter to employers? Is a degree still demanded?
Luke: This varies from client to client. Increasingly we are seeing employers focusing on technical screening outputs rather than academic backgrounds.
Having said this, some clients will only hire degree qualified IT professionals.
IA: How do IT qualifications from alternate private educators sit with employers?
Luke: TAFE qualifications are well regarded but this is public sector. In regards to private educators, this is hard to say as we typically recruit at a more senior level rather than the new entrant level.
IA: Do women apply for certain types of ICT roles more than others? Do you feel the language of the ad has anything to do with it?
Luke: The written word is very powerful. There is a large focus on employment branding in end-user organisations as well as within the recruitment sector. Everyone is focusing on ensuring they are able to attract the right talent. In regard to female versus male response rates, we don’t track this, mainly because the industry participation is dominated by males.
IA: Which roles get a lot of responses to ads?
Luke: We have very high response rates for business-related roles like project managers and business analysts. We also get high response rates for some senior roles and middle management roles. At the other end of the scale, we get a lot of response for entry level roles but, unfortunately, the quality at this level really varies.
IA: Do applicants really need to compete with others for some roles? Or do some ads get so few applicants that a job is almost guaranteed?
Luke: On some roles we may have more than 100 applicants. On others, we can get less than five. There is no such thing as a guaranteed job. Even if you have specialist skills, you still need to have a good attitude to find the right role.
Luke Singleton is the Founder and Director of Spark Recruitment, a specialist ICT recruitment agency based in Sydney. Previously, he was NSW Director at Ambition Technology Recruitment, NSW Manager at Trinity Group, and Recruitment Consultant at Pegasus IT Consulting. You can contact Spark Recruitment at firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 8090 7788.