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Off the Rails

Off the Rails

Jobs have flooded from the IT sector this year both in Australia and globally. Around 1400 people are gone from failed telco One.Tel. Telstra is halfway through a 10,000 headcount reduction. Gateway is to purge a quarter of its staff internationally and has shut shop entirely in Australia. Toshiba has announced 18,800 jobs are to go. Fujitsu is sacking 16,400 people. Accenture, in a softer form of downsizing, recently extended its voluntary sabbatical program to Australia, allowing consultants to take months of unpaid leave.

The malaise has also spread to IT jobs more broadly across the economy. Corporate IT departments are freezing headcount, laying off contractors, and shedding staff through natural attrition. And CIOs looking for new opportunities are competing with a growing tide of rivals, some of whom are disenchanted with their current situation, and others who have no current job thanks to the dot bombs.

Graham Willis, a headhunter with Russell Reynolds Associates, says that he has never seen as many unsolicited curricula vitae cross his desk before. In a week he might see as many as 30 unsolicited CVs from CIOs, "or people who could be a CIO. Eighteen months ago they would have been a CIO or a CTO of a start-up." Many of those start-ups have since stopped, or at least slowed down, making the recruitment opportunities far slimmer than they were a year ago.

During the four months February to May, the EL Index, which tracks demand for IT executive staff, fell consistently. According to EL Consult, which prepares the index, the first sign of life that things might be starting to improve came in June when the index rose 5 per cent. "Executive employment tends to lead changes in the overall employment. This result suggests that the Australian job market might just be dragging itself up off the floor. It is going to be slow but a recovery can be expected in the coming months," says Grant Montgomery, the firm's managing director. [An observation made prior to September 11-Ed.]What has definitely stalled is the salary spiral for IT staff.

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More about Accenture AustraliaAustralian Bureau of StatisticsAustralian Computer SocietyAustralian Computer SocietyCVSFujitsuOne.TelRussell Reynolds AssociatesTelstra CorporationToshiba

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