IT’s unemployed find slim pickings on job front

Highly skilled IT professionals make up one of the fastest growing sectors of unemployed people in Australia.

The managing director of human resources consultancy, SACS Executive Solutions, Andrew Marty, said corporate industry professionals – including those in IT – are finding it tough to locate work in their traditional areas.

As a result, this once in-demand group of professionals is becoming displaced and working in roles foreign to their area of expertise.

“Australia currently has two economies: the consumer and building-oriented sector, which is faring well, and the corporate sector which includes IT, management, marketing and consulting – where performance is dismal,” Marty said.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there has been little salary growth in three years and the total number of permanent jobs has dropped markedly.

Recent ABS labour force statistics reveal that full-time employment decreased by 55,100 jobs between April 2001 and April 2002; this is in contrast to part-time employment which rose by 11,600 in the same period.

“The dilemma is obvious, casual work opportunities are increasing alongside a massive surge of professional workers seeking entry into less skilled and lower paid industries,” Marty said.

As a result, professional workers applying for jobs are told they are over-qualified and watch lesser skilled workers winning jobs.

Marty said each time media reports claim the economy is healthy, it twists like a knife for IT professionals who can’t find jobs.

Before the dot-com crash, he said, students were encouraged to prepare for a flood of jobs in IT resulting in a generation of people who cannot gain employment in what they are trained and skilled to do.

Until there is a substantial upturn in business investment, Marty said there will be no turnaround.

Westpac economist Justin Smirk said the chances for finding work are a lot better in the low-skilled, lower-paid, part-time arena because the growth in full-time jobs is flattening but part-time work is growing.

“The levelling out in full-time employment is a worrying sign,” Smirk said.

Looking at job figures for April, May and June – the second quarter of 2002 – full-time jobs have disappeared at an average of 15,900 per month, he said.