Australian IT salaries on the rise

SYDNEY – The Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) annual survey of its members found that the salaries of ICT professionals steadily increased over the 12 months to May 2008, rising an average of 4.9 per cent across all industry sectors.

The 2008 ACS Remuneration Survey was conducted by the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers (APESMA) on behalf of the ACS. It surveyed 1,500 ACS members and recorded a 5.1 per cent increase for private sector ICT employees, up half a percentage point from the previous year, while salaries of public sector ICT workers increased by 4.1 per cent.

ACS president Kumar Parakala told Computerworld the growth of almost 5 per cent was a strong indication of the continuing demand for ICT professionals.

“Last year [the ACS ICT sector salary survey increase] was 4.5 per cent and this year it is 5 per cent, which is good. We expect the remuneration and demand of ICT professionals to grow next year despite the volatility in local and international markets,” Parakala said.

The survey found CIOs and general management roles were the most lucrative positions in ICT, particularly in the financial services sector where demand currently exceeds supply.

Parakala said the remuneration benefits for top management and CIOs indicates the importance of ICT professionals having a greater understanding and renewed focus on broader business needs, and the shift away from “purely technical services”. “General managers in ICT, business development managers, project managers are all earning in excess of [US]$100,000 salaries, and entry level positions are at $50,000-$60,000 per annum, which is an extremely good message for people planning to take jobs in ICT,” he said.

According to the ACS, the salaries of the majority of ICT professionals increased marginally faster than the general cost of living increases in Australia, which according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics increased 4.2 per cent over much the same period. The survey also reported that incomes of ICT professionals just managed to keep pace with most other technical professional employees at 5-6 per cent. However, increases for ICT employees generally lagged behind gains made by professionals in the booming resources sector, which posted annual salary increases of 7-10 per cent.

“In spite of all the negativity around limited opportunities, in Australia ICT is in fact one of very few professions where the demand exceeds supply and the wages are now going up gradually because of that scarcity. So it’s a good profession for everyone to be focusing on,” Parakala said.

Parakala said the ACS expects Australian ICT workers in the government, infrastructure, information communication and entertainment sectors to enjoy further growth both in opportunities and salaries over the coming 12 months.

“Skills shortages within the ICT sector are expected to grow to 14,000 in 2010 and 25,000 in 2020. With these figures, the demand for qualified professionals shows no signs of slowing down.”

However, while Parakala gave Australia’s ICT industry a solid and promising bill of health, he raised concerns that the industry is lacking a future vision of where it wants to be and how Australia’s ICT industry can play an active role in the global ICT market.

“Australia is in many ways isolated because of the geographical distance from major places of action like the New York and London financial markets, and even Hong Kong, where I am today, is about 10 hours away.

“So I think we need to be proactively thinking about how Australia contributes to the global ICT agenda. Because ICT is now becoming a truly global profession and if we don’t really understand and plan towards it we run the risk of missing out on significant opportunities that can help our economy grow further.”

Despite the positive findings for ICT workers across the board, another recent survey by the ACS that polled its female members found that 30 percent of respondents believed they did not receive equivalent pay to their male counterparts.

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