If you’re an IT worker looking for full-time work, 2018 could well be your year.

The future looks promising for IT professionals in Australia, according to Clicks IT Recruitment 2018 Recruitment and Retention Report.

The annual report highlighted the current strength of the industry, revealing that hiring intentions in IT have reached a five-year high.

“Overall, we’re expecting 2018 will provide IT workers with a good level of opportunity,” said Managing Director at Clicks IT Recruitment, Ben Wood. “We’re expecting jobs growth, and there’s certain pockets of high-demand, as there always is in IT.”

After gathering data from just under 300 companies as part of its research, Clicks found that those expecting to spend more on IT increased from 33% in 2016 to 37% last year.

Bursting the contractor bubble

And it seems companies are looking to spend their increased IT budget on full-time workers, indicating a slight pull-back from contracting.

36% of companies said they were looking to increase their permanent IT staff over the next 12 months, up from 28% the previous year.

“What we find is that when the market is improving, demand for contractors leads demand for perm,” Wood told Information Age.

“And then when the market is very strong, and there’s a high level of confidence, demand for perm tends to lead demand for contracting.

“When things are very confident people want to hire perm because, amongst other things, perm are cheaper.

“The pendulum, if you like, has swung slightly towards favouring permanent hires rather than contractor hires.”

However, Wood explained that in IT there will always be a focus on contracting work, with the figures indicating that 69% of companies are expecting their usage of contractors to be greater or the same than the previous year.

Finding the right fit

While demand for IT workers has increased, the report suggested employers are often struggling with the recruitment process.

Only 23% of respondents reported having no difficulty when it came to finding the right fit for an IT position, down from 30% in 2016.

On top of this, 45% of companies revealed they had employment offers rejected by candidates, a 5% increase from the previous year – another indication of a high number of job opportunities.

Wood explained that this can be due to misguidance at the employer’s end.

“Often, it’s the level of expectation that the employer has around the skill level and experience level, compared to what they want to pay.”

“If you are saying, ‘I need this list of skills and experiences’, you’ve got to be prepared to pay what the market pays for that list of skills and experiences.”

“Sometimes an employer will not understand that and go to market and just not be able to find the person because they’re stuck wanting a certain level of skill and experience and they’re only being able to pay a certain salary that doesn’t get them that level of skill and experience.”

Bucking the trend

In March last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia released Insights into Low Wage Growth in Australia.

The bulletin detailed that wage increases in Australia have been less frequent since 2012 and that previously forecasted wage growth had been too strong.

And the Clicks report reveals that the IT industry has not been excluded from this, with wage growth at a low 1.73% in 2017.

“What is also happening is that across the economy wage growth is very low… our research supports that,” said Wood.

And while IT budgets are increasing, expenditure is not always on human resources.

“People are spending more on IT and they’re investing more on IT,” he said. “That’s not necessarily just people -- it’s partly people, partly bits of equipment.”

“Average salaries are not increasing very much but probably more people are being employed.”