Are you an under-paid IT worker?

BuilderAU released a recent article titled Developer skills outlook 2007: What’s hot for employers. There are a few things to take away from the article, that seem to apply not only to Australia, but elsewhere.

“The biggest issue that we see generally speaking is that the overall skill level of the developers is not where it needs to be,” said Jeff Pope, Asia Pacific vice president for Agitar Software.

The general idea of skills shortage. And its not that there’s a shortage of people in the market, the universities and TAFEs are churning them out by the dozen; its the lack of highly-skilled people. So where should aspiring IT people aim to spend their passion and hone their talents and ambitions in 2007?

It would seem that it’s in the Java and C# markets. Web 2.0 hasn’t taken off in Australia yet (probably because of the lack of ubiquitous availability of the Internet), but its an emerging market and Internet-based companies will be pressured to have lots of JavaScript-goodness.

And FOSS fans, don’t worry, you’re not left out: the LAMP jobs are a calling as well.

“There will be an increase in the number of companies using MySQL, PHP, and Linux as it gives them control over the development cycle and total costs, and reduces some of the sunk costs,” Manzoori said. “Developers with skills and passion in these areas should consequently be in demand.”

What software development jobs pay in Australia
Average salary survey for 2006

Remuneration is always a key motivator, and Hays has released their annual salary survey. Junior testers are expected to start off at a little more than a full-time checkout-chick at Coles!

In Part II of their article, which circled around certification, there are some interesting points to take away from it as well. About how motivated, quick learning, and finding new information quickly, are key things a good developer needs. Having a string of papers or titles behind one’s name might not necessarily be the best solution, as experience is also valued over paper qualification. This is where Australia, clearly differs from Asia (in a good way).

Just under two more months till 2007 is here. If thinking about training & certification, especially in the open source arena, I can heartily recommend the LPI, and the MySQL 5.0 Developer & DBA certification, mainly because of cost (you can get an LPI proctor to give out the papers, to save even more). If you have a bit more coin, one of the Red Hat offerings are bound to be useful too.

Here’s hoping you have a prosperous new year, in getting that dream job and dream salary (maybe thanks to your newly developed skills).

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  1. James Purser says:

    Part of the “Skills Shortage” problem as I see it, is not that there is a shortage of skills (although I don’t doubt that in certain areas there is), but more of a shortage of skilled people willing to take what they see as low wages for th job involved. That this skills shortage is being used as a weapon in the drive for importing labour rather than building our local pool is another thing that worries me.

    I guess it can be viewed as another “outsourcing”. Instead of sending work over seas, we are importing the workers.

    Until people realise that in order to get the talent they are going to have to pay for it, I don’t see a major change happening in the policy formation arena

  2. byte says:

    So, what you’re saying is that people have an over-inflated sense of what they’re worth then. Because there are two sides to the coin: is the employer paying too little (as in a junior tester, might get $5,000 more per annum at a higher stress job, than just bagging groceries at the local supermarket) or is it such that junior testers expect to be paid a lot more?

    Now, importing workers from overseas might be seen as “outsourcing”, but if they work cheaper/better/faster, is it not a win-win situation? Keeps our IT deficit lower, anyways.

    Getting talent and paying what talent is worth is important. But maybe talent has an over-inflated sense of worth. And we need “imports” to place a balance in the system.

    FWIW, “importing” someone isn’t a straight thru process. The employer has to prove that such a job cannot be done sufficiently by locals (in Australia). So its probably more than just costs involved, imho.

    And is it not fair, to pay a programmer between $45,000 (with say no experience!) to $65,000 (with more than 2 years work experience)?

  3. James Purser says:

    I understand the process in becoming a Skilled Migrant is not an easy one, and nor should it be.

    I also understand that skilled migrants have their place in the Australian ICT sector, and have made real contributions.

    However where my concerns lie in how this can impact on local industry and the continuing development and growth of the local talent pool. There is a danger that the industry might become “addicted” so to speak to imported workers. What this could mean is that instead of growing the local pool, they instead immediately look over seas pointing of course to the small pool of talent at home as a reason for doing so.

    I guess this is part of the problem of merging a global economy with national systems. In Australia our cost of living is quite high compared to many places. If wages go down, less people become interested in the sector and so on.

    I guess I’m just paranoid about business group motives.

  4. byte says:

    I don’t know, in this modern globalised world, Australasia should think about some sort of European Union like thing.

    Local talent pools are important, but they’ve also got to “compete” with the rest of the world. This applies to all countries, even developing ones (in where say First World local talent pools tend to go over and do “information exchange”) – which is why FOSS is so important.

    The cost of living is high, but here comes the clincher of all of this: if we in Australia can hire foreign talent for cheaper, and yet they survive with these “perceived lower wages”, then why should it be a problem with the local talent pool?

    I’m paranoid about business people’s motives, but I’m also game for a free market. I hate “protectionist” schemes. Everyone should be able to compete in a nice free market…

    Only then, will the bar for skills be raised.

    Remember: if you want to be a gardener, be the best at it. That way, no matter what, you’ll always be in demand. Thats how the local talent pool should think and want to get things done.

    Worrying about competition is just silly. In the very near future, borders will become oblivious, and if you’ve not got the skill to offer, thats going to be just too bad.

    This is why America’s been doing wonders in the IT sector – their H1B visas probably had a role to play in that. Now they’re tempting Aussies to head over, to further drain our local talent pool, with the E1 visas. Australia needs to think out of the box and do something similar if we want to reduce our over $20 billion ICT deficit.

  5. Matt says:

    It all goes back to college. The simple fact is that engineering and computer science degrees are the hardest undergraduate degrees to obtain. After working your butt off to obtain the degree, you come out into industry only to find out that you aren’t going to be paid much better than a school teacher. On top of it, your job is going to be a lot more difficult and more stressful than just about any other job around. And then you see others that screwed off in college with basket weaving degrees that are making more money. It’s almost like going to school to become a brain surgeon, but you get the same pay as a secretary. Why do the work when it comes to software and hardware engineering? Might as well do something easier where you can go to work and just perform a “task” every day that doesn’t require any thinking and get paid the same.