Automation expected to impact IT industry

According to leading specialist recruitment company Robert Walters, nine out of ten (90%) of IT professionals across New Zealand and Australia believe automation will significantly alter the skills they need to compete and be relevant within the next five years.

Automation and the threat of job loss to artificial intelligence in the technology industry is a real threat to the market, but technology professionals are learning to adapt, up skill and retrain to thrive in an ever-changing jobs market.

“Our survey suggests IT professionals in New Zealand and Australia are keenly aware of this,” says Mr Peters. “But, while two-thirds (66%) said automation is already impacting hiring strategies, the urgency of the situation may not have dawned on all IT professionals.”

While 78% said shifts towards a greater level and higher complexity of automation meant they must up skill to future proof their careers, only half (51%) had proactively enrolled on courses to do so.  Perhaps surprisingly, when IT professionals were asked what factors influenced them most when weighing up job offers, training ranked rock bottom.

The findings are part of the Robert Walters White Paper, which highlights the technology recruitment landscape and where it’s heading for 2018; with a focus on IT moving from a support to a core business function.

The advent of big data, automation and mobile (to name but three) means technology is no longer just a tool – it has become a central part of how everyone works and transacts, and every business is reliant on IT professionals keeping the wheels in motion, as well as increasingly to help decide business direction and strategy.

“Technology is constantly changing with digital transformations occurring in corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors,” says Shay Peters, the NZ Country Director for Robert Walters. “So, too, is the technology field – moving from a support service in a company to being at the core of business and strategy.”

But it’s not a case of demand driving up wages for all technology workers, even though 80% of employers in the survey expected workloads to increase.  The recruitment landscape is seen to be more nuanced than that with high wages only occurring in niche areas where demand is highest and skilled workers in limited supply.

To cope with the increasing demands, managers said they are looking to contract in resources (44%) or outsource work to external providers or professional consultancies (27%) rather than increase headcount in-house.

This gives the specialist technology worker opportunities as specific skills are sought for project-based work. The top three niche areas will be cyber security, followed by development and digital, then business intelligence and data management.

“In 2018, cyber security professionals will see the highest growth in demand for their services, in the wake of high profile security breaches and increased regulatory scrutiny in 2017,” says Mr Peters.

“High on the list will also be development and digital specialists, especially those with experience in digital transformation.” 

Likewise, more business intelligence and data management professionals will be required to guide the rebuilding of services and products around customer behaviour. However, demand will be lowest for roles in infrastructure, customer relationship management and systems analysis/engineering.

Filling the roles won’t necessarily be an easy task, though, with 74% of employers saying their hardest IT recruitment challenge is a lack of suitable candidates, with 72% expecting salaries in IT departments to increase in 2018 as a way to attract talent. 

Recruiters will also need to be decisive and quick on their employment offers as prospective employees may be offered multiple employment contracts to choose from in 2018.

“Employers will need to keep up with market rates, but IT professionals do listen to more than just money,” says Mr Peters. “When weighing up a job offer, IT specialists are motivated by range of factors. For example, almost one in three (31%) said their first or second priority was the technology and projects they could work on. Flexible working arrangements also ranked high. Retaining staff will also be easier if workers are offered varied and challenging work, strong leadership and clear career progression opportunities.”

“Overall, the technology jobs market is growing, especially in niche areas,” says Mr Peters. “But, IT professionals and business leaders need to keep an eye to the future to foresee changing needs.”

The full report can be read here.


About Robert Walters

Robert Walters is one of the world’s leading global recruitment consultancies, specialising in the placement of permanent, contract and temporary positions across all levels of seniority. Our teams of professional consultants are renowned for their professionalism, integrity and exceptional recruitment consultancy.

Robert Walters has two offices in New Zealand, one in Auckland and the second in Wellington.


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