Money talks to Australian IT contractors

Daily rates biggest appeal for job-seeking contractors followed by flexibility and experience, says Hays report

The best paid IT contractors in Australia are program managers working in Canberra, who can charge up to $1,800 a day.

Within the field of operations and support, security consultants in Adelaide charged the most for their labour with a $1,500 daily rate. Among developers, Canberra-based technical architects were able to charge most, invoicing at up to $1,500 a day.

Those figures are according to recruitment firm Hays, which released its first Contracting Recruitment & Rates Guide late last month.

Canberra was home to many of the highest daily rates across all job descriptions, driven by the Government’s continuing effort to improve digital services, Hays said.

“There will be a big rush for resources to meet project delivery milestones at the end of the financial year, and then a giant spike as the market adjusts to budget allocations and project confirmation at the start of the new financial year,” the report stated.

That trend looks set to continue following this year’s budget in which a slew of transformation projects and Digital Transformation Agency led initiatives were assigned funding.

In the private sector, Hays analysis indicated “increased contract demand thanks to IT budgets expanding to match project scopes” the report said.

The most in demand skills in the developer category included Dynamics CRM developers, .NET Web developers, and solutions and technical architects.

In the project leader category, Agile experience is typically required, and those with specific domain knowledge and experience in a particular industry or technology are preferred.

There is a candidate shortage in IT operations, the report said, with advances across messaging, virtualisation and hyper-convergence creating many contracting opportunities. Demand was also being driven by Microsoft 365 and Windows 10 upgrades across the country, Hays said.

Money talks

In a survey of 240 contractors which features in the guide, three quarters of IT contractors said the top benefit of their chosen working style was the increased earning potential it offers.

Flexibility was said to be a benefit by 67 per cent of respondents, followed by experience (54 per cent), making new contacts (50 per cent) and skills development (45 per cent).

“While money talks and higher day rates are the key factor attracting more people to contracting, the flexibility and ability to take control of their own career is also alluring,” said Adam Shapley, senior regional director of Hays Information Technology.

When selecting their next assignment the rate on offer was considered the most important factor to 78 per cent of contractors. This was closely followed by quality of the project or work (74 per cent) then length of the contract (68 per cent), the ability to extend skills (58 per cent) and the reputation of the employer (55 per cent).

As well as technical ability, respondents cited their most important skills as: ability to learn quickly (88 per cent), adaptability and professionalism (both 87 per cent), the ability to hit the ground running (82 per cent) and the respect for an organisation’s culture and people (75 per cent).

Contracting was a win-win for contractors and employers, Shapley said.

“Rapid technological advances are a sign of our time, but they’ve left many employers scrambling to deliver IT and business transformation projects as quickly as possible in order to stay relevant,” he said.

“In such an environment, it’s no wonder that contractors are now viewed by employers as an ideal flexible resource to help them deliver projects and add technical skills in areas where a team is falling short.”

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