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ACT

19 May 2011

IT contracting market in the ACT shaping up strongly-
By FRANCES STEWART (SOURCE Canberra Times Sunday 13/03/11)-

BUSINESS analysts, project managers, testers and SharèPoint specialists are in demand as the I ACT's IT contracting market shapes up for a strong year.
The latest salary survey by specialist recruitment firm Peoplebank reveals that while permanent salaries in IT roles have remained flat, contractors are demanding higher pay rates as government projects and investment in IT increases.
Peoplebank's report found the Canberra market had largely absorbed the changes arising from the Gershon report, had escaped the shadow of the global financial crisis and moved on from last year's political un-certainties.

Pay increases are likely for IT workers with skills in demand.
Shortages of business analysts, project managers, testers and SharePoint specialists across the Canberra market are seeing fierce competition and bigger pay packets for suitably qualified candidates, while senior change managers, database developers and service-desk operators have all seen hourly rates increase in the past quarter.
In the next quarter, Peoplebank expects pay increases across the in-demand skills set as the market focuses on finalising projects before the end of the financial year. The next quarter will also, see federal government departments finalising Gershon targets, leading to an increased number of permanent public service roles in the ACT.
Canberra-based businesses will need to offer competitive remuneration, training and career, opportunities to secure candidates lured by attractive permanent positions in the public service. Nationally, the IT hiring market was characterised by. Slower-than-usual activity in NSW and Victoria early in the year, while disasters and weather events such as the Queensland floods have given rise to large regional variations in hiring patterns in the other states.

IT Budget boost

19 May 2011

$1bn budget boost for public sector projects By Fran Foo (SOURCE The Australian Tuesday 17/05/11)- THE federal budget was a boon for the technology sector, with more than $1 billion allocated to public-sector projects that will underpin reforms in service delivery.

About 70 per cent of the funds have been earmarked for the Department of Human Services, which is in the midst of integrating Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency into a super agency.

Although industry observers were expecting a razor-gang budget -- with massive cutbacks to programs -- Wayne Swan delivered few cuts.

The consistent, albeit hidden, theme in this year's budget is a continuing focus on simplifying citizen engagement with government and driving public sector productivity, especially using online tools.

Efforts such as the single sign-on, tell-us-once approach will make communication with government easier.

With this function, multiple agencies can simultaneously be updated when someone changes their home address or other personal details.


That means individuals can, at their own choice, engage with government from a central spot and simplify information updates.

According to John Sheridan, first assistant secretary at the Australian Government Information Management Office, last week's budget had $1.03bn worth of IT spending, down slightly from $1.2bn in 2010-11.

The investments cover 62 budget measures in 15 portfolios, excluding defence, Mr Sheridan said.

Application development will make up the bulk of the work, taking up 43 per cent of the allocation, he said.

This is followed by 35 per cent for mid-range servers and the remainder is for other items.

There was "substantial investment" in government systems.


The government was "keen to drive public-sector productivity through the provision of top-notch IT", Mr Sheridan said.

The main area of investment in government ICT was about $703 million for the Department of Human Services, for its service delivery reform, a key tenet of Labor's draft technology vision.

Human Services will receive $373.6m over four years to integrate the technology infrastructure of Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency.

Another $157.6m over four years will be used to enhance and develop technology for people to manage their accounts online. AGIMO will conduct a scoping study and develop a business case for tell-us-once.

Pre-filled forms containing personal information would be used if users consented, and people may be able to view all their government communications in one place at one time, Mr Sheridan said.

People would be able to use their australia.gov.au account to link to more than one service, such as Medicare and Centrelink, and use tell-us-once in a pilot project, he said.

"The government can use ICT to deliver integrated services to people by enabling a range of self-service channels.

"This includes giving people options to link services across agencies, assisting people to find information and services offered by government, and reducing the red-tape and compliance burden," the draft ICT vision says.

"Reducing the regulatory burden on people, non-profit organisations and businesses supports increased productivity.

"The tell-us-once approach . . . provides people the option entirely within the control of citizens to access government services through a secure log-on to government, and joined-up government services across Australian, state and territory, and local government jurisdictions."

Other budget measures with technology allocations are $61m to develop smart motorways to reduce traffic congestion, and millions more for rejigging the taxation system.

Meanwhile, IT observers were disappointed that there was no clarity on programs to tackle the skills shortage.

"Without the full detail of line items in the budget it is difficult to speculate how many (ICT) jobs will be supported or created by the 2011 budget," Australian Computer Society president Anthony Wong said.

Mr Wong and Australian Information Industry Association chief Ian Birks said all eyes would be on the release of the government's National Digital Economy Strategy at the end of the month.

They hope that will provide industry with certainty on how skills shortage can be tackled.

The ACS predicts a 25,000 tech skills shortfall by 2020.

IT skills shortage

19 May 2011

Wayne Swan urged to tackle IT skills shortage By Fran Foo (SOURCE The Australian Tuesday 10/05/11)- THE Gillard government has been urged to put technology skills at the forefront of today's federal budget or risk further cost blowouts that will hurt taxpayers in the long run. Wayne Swan is expected to boost skills training and create an additional 16,000 slots for skilled migrants in regional Australia. But the IT industry wants other concrete measures -- such as tax breaks and R&D concessions -- to address the skills shortage in the long term. "The big issue is around cost pressures across all industries. Since the financial crisis, demand for IT skills is on the rise (rapidly)," Capgemini Australia public sector head Shelley Oldham said. If nothing was done by government to promote skills locally, jobs would continue to be sourced from offshore centres, she said. Demand for skilled IT workers has risen by between 20 per cent and 30 per cent, according to the Peoplebank Intermedium Federal ICT Labour Hire Index for April 2011. Ms Oldham said that based on the spike in demand and salaries, some of the bigger government projects could blow out by $50 million, while a company conducting a $40m mid-sized project could have a budget overrun of $8m. "If you're a bank and you've decided to spend $1 billion over two years on IT and your cost has just jumped 20 per cent, that's going to flow back negatively," she said. "In the late 1980s, the government created industry placement programs that had R&D tax and investment concessions, and grants to build more ICT capability. But the way things are heading at the moment, there's going to be a greater reliance on offshore (skills). "In the long term, that erodes our skill base quite dramatically." Ms Oldham said the government should create incentive programs to encourage cottage industries to stimulate the digital economy in National Broadband Network sites in regional areas. "I'm hoping we get to see in the budget something that stimulates the ICT industry to build productivity, create new applications and go beyond the pilot NBN sites," she said. NBN early rollout site Ipswich in Queensland, for example, could be given funds to establish a national base for remote diabetes monitoring. "Government should marry the NBN (infrastructure) with applications instead of having them as silos," Ms Oldham said. Ovum Australia public sector IT research director Kevin Noonan said he expected the government to run the ruler over non-performing projects as it looked for savings.

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