Salaries are surging for tech staff as skills shortages bite the ICT sector due to worker uncertainty and closed borders, employers claim.

Roles such as Salesforce Architects and Cloud Engineers are seeing rates jumping 20% over the past six months.

Billy Tucker, CEO of Sydney-based services marketplace, Oneflare, told Information Age the booming jobs market has a number of causes ranging from a shortage of skilled migrants through to workers seeking a ‘flight to safety’ by staying with larger employers such as banks and well capitalised tech firms.

"Overseas talent has been a rich source for us, in particular with react.js and Android developer roles, but now access to overseas talent has been harder than ever for those positions.

"However, from the middle of last year, things became harder with local hires. For those with a job, they don't want to move to a job that feels less stable to them.

"For instance, for a business like ours, many staff came from the big banks from people who'd been part of a big corporate culture but who are looking for a bit of change.

"What we've found is it's become more difficult to convince people to join us from highly secure roles.”

Adding to that is competition from Australia’s home-grown tech giants, Tucker says, citing competition with big startups like Atlassian and Canva.

"It makes life difficult when they are on a hiring spree.

"When great brands like that go out to the market to hire, and they really don't hold back on rates, it really does drive up the market which is good for the participants like developers, but it's not great for businesses like ours."

"Another thing worth mentioning is working from home – although we're working in the office as much as three days a week, it's much harder to convince people to take on a new role when the initial phase of their employment will be remote.

"Add to that, the lack of overseas migrants and returning Australians. It can get very difficult."

Earlier this month, Seek reported strong demand across the Information & Communication Technology sector so far this year.

“Growth rates in the Information & Communication Technology industry in the fortnight ending 14 February are strong, up 16.3% nationally, continuing on from a 10.2% rise in the previous fortnight,” Seek reported.

“More locally, ACT has seen a significant increase in demand, up 25%. Growth is also occurring in VIC (+22%), QLD (+20%), NSW (+19%), and SA (+16%).”

Another executive of cloud computing services firm told Information Age their firm was finding supply particularly tight for Salesforce engineers and Cloud Architects.

"There’s an absolute lack of people at all levels of the Salesforce ecosystem, particularly in the mid to top levels. As a consequence, people are asking for a lot of money and it's increasing. It’s almost like house prices,” they joked.

Cloud engineers have been identified as one of the most in-demand ICT jobs, particularly as the economy recovers from the COVID-driven 2020 downturn and organisations look to move services online.

The crunch in tech skills comes as Federal Parliament launches an inquiry into the skilled immigration program and its future in a post-COVID economy.

Due to report later this year, the Joint Standing Committee on Migration is to report on Australia's skilled migration program with its terms of reference including whether the existing skills list meets industry’s needs along with “Australia's international competitiveness in attracting entrepreneurs, venture capital, startups, and the best and brightest skilled migrants with cutting edge skills”,

Oneflare’s Tucker though, believing the staffing challenges reflect a healthy economy and industry, concluded, "I think given the challenges of 2020, we've all come out of it pretty well. The business has come out of it pretty well. We find ourselves in 2021 with people's psyche much better prepared for what's coming next.”