Govt ICT hiring spend to hit record high

Significant IT projects with the Department of Human Services and the AFP have driven the increase
Peoplebank’s Federal ICT Labour Hire Index

Peoplebank’s Federal ICT Labour Hire Index

ICT hiring within the Federal Government has been forecast to hit an all-time high in 2012 with current spending on contractors already tipping $591.5 million for the 10 months to April 2012.

The figures were published in recruitment firm Peoplebank’s Federal ICT Labour Hire Index, which tracks the number and value of Federal Government roles for IT contractors in Canberra for the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.

ICT hiring was recorded at 1479 in December 2011, an increase of 212 points on the previous year, while the number of contracts has decreased, indicating ICT contractors in Canberra have experienced a 5 per cent wage increase since the start of the period.

In March, the index recorded a figure of 2301, double that of March 2011, which is forecasted to rise as the government ramps up the finalisation of projects before the end of the financial year.

According to the index, the numbers are set to reach 2680 by May this year which reflects continued spending on transformative ICT projects within agencies such as the Department of Human Services, the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Peoplebank chief executive, Pater Acheson, told Computerworld Australia that while the $591.5 million was slightly less than investment in previous years, due to the re-election of the Gillard Government, it was set to increase in the lead up to July.

“The Federal Government didn’t spend a lot on IT for a couple of years so there’s some late in demand projects,” he said. “We re-elected the Gillard government in late 2010 and they’ve got to get on and deliver some of the key projects.”

“During elections are they go into caretaker mode, nothing gets spent and of course we had that longer protracted period last time due to the election of the independents where we had a hiatus for a few weeks,” he said. “So it wasn’t until early to mid-2011 that the new government had an opportunity to start to deliver its new IT projects and that’s effectively what’s happening.

“The second underlying issue is the government’s stated initiative to service the Australian public via online self service programs, moving to much greater Web-based service and fulfilment rather than people-based service and fulfilment, so those projects are causing a spike in IT hiring, spend and investment as well.”

“Government agencies are committed to meeting key end-of-financial year milestones on major projects,” he said. “We anticipate that several of these agencies are likely to progress their projects to the next stage in coming weeks to achieve their project targets.”

The demand for contractors is being met by the local candidate pool, Acheson said, although will be increasingly supplemented by interstate contractors, specifically in Melbourne and Sydney where the financial services sector is experiencing less activity than normal.

According to Acheson, the numbers will be steady in the lead up to the end of the financial year but will also rely on the outcomes of the Federal Budget in May.

“The big question now is the May budget and what will be in it and whether it’ll be the tough budget that’s been talked about,” he said. “If it is tough there will be a chance that projects might actually have reduced expenditure so it really depends.

“Government is acutely aware that it is unable to function without effective ICT systems, and it is investing in capability development programs that will help it keep up with constituents and serve them more efficiently.”

Acheson said demand was strongest for those with Microsoft Sharepoint and customer relationship management (CRM) skills and business analysts and IT professionals with high level government security clearances.

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