IT sector attracts with better pay, conditions

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2013

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Employers in Christchurch's information and communications technology sector are offering higher salary and contract rates and, increasingly, offering relocation costs and initial rental accommodation to attract skilled staff.

That's according to a survey of 4200 IT professionals in New Zealand by recruitment firm Absolute IT.

"We're seeing an immediate need to bolster headcount to meet new project demands, driven by the Christchurch rebuild," Absolute IT director and South Island general manager Kristy Ward said.

Competitive remuneration was a "crucial" component in helping Christchurch employers retain and attract top talent, and at least half of employers surveyed said they would be giving their staff pay rises this year.

Christchurch median salary rates for IT roles had in previous years been up to 12.5 per cent lower than those in Wellington, and Auckland, but in the last six months there had been a shift in the market with Christchurch employers offering remuneration packages more than 10 per cent higher than median rates, Ward said.

In June last year the median IT base salary in Auckland was $75,000, in Wellington $80,000 and in Christchurch $70,000.

Employers were finding it a lot harder to find suitable staff and hence salaries were increasing.

"A lot of people are interested, say, in Auckland, but once they hear about the salary level they go ‘OK, maybe not' so that's why salaries are going up," Ward said. "We've got one client who needs about 30 staff and we're thinking where are we going to get these people?"

A lot of new hires were coming from outside the region, from Auckland or Wellington and overseas.

Ward said her firm was having to recruit more aggressively overseas to find suitable candidates.

The Australian market was "candidate rich" and the firm was finding more Australians were interested in coming to New Zealand, but pay packages had to be attractive, which was why employers were also offering relocation packages.

Some employers were allowing up to $10,000 for relocation costs and providing four weeks' accommodation.

"And that certainly starts to get attractive for people to think ‘OK, yes. I will relocate my family.' "

Work/life balance, flexible hours and career development opportunities were also important to candidates.

There was now more interest in changing workplaces among Christchurch IT professionals than there had been for the last couple of years.

For a time after the earthquakes people had been reluctant to change jobs as work had been the one constant amid the disruption caused by the quakes.

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It had been "batten down the hatches" for the last couple of years, but now professionals in the region were saying they were interested in looking at other opportunities.

Of the 4200 IT professionals surveyed, just more than half said they would consider moving to Christchurch for a new role.

- The Press

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