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More than half of CIOs looking to hire more employees - report

By Jessie Chiang
Thu 28 Jul 2022

New independent research by specialised recruiter Robert Half as part of the 2022 Salary Guide mid-year refresh finds that, in contrast to news of widespread tech layoffs in America, Australia's technology sector is showing signs of strong growth over the remainder of 2022.

The report says 53% of CIOs are planning to expand their current headcount, 35% will maintain headcount, 9% will freeze hiring, and just 2% intend to reduce headcount over the next six months.

But figures recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that unemployment has reached its lowest level for decades, currently standing at 3.5%, while job vacancies increased by as much as 13.8% between February and May this year.

With so many Australians already in work and job openings on the rise, 73% of employers across all industries think it will be even more challenging to find qualified employees compared to just six months ago.

The report says securing the necessary skills to progress infrastructure, development and transformation priorities remains an obstacle to growth for many CIOs. The top five must-have skills for the remainder of 2022 are:

  • Cyber security (65%) 
  • Data analytics (64%)
  • Cloud computing (61%) 
  • Software engineering (61%) 
  • Programming (61%)

Furthermore, while CIOs are willing to pay an additional premium of 22% to 30% to secure technical skills across the board, the skills that can attract the highest salary premium (as a % on top of starting salary) are:

  • Data analytics (30%) 
  • Cloud computing (29%)
  • Software engineer (29%) 
  • Blockchain (29%)
  • Software development (28%)

The report also looks into the soft skills CIOs find most challenging to find in this market, which are initiative (52%), innovative thinking (48%), and relationship-building skills (44%).

Australia's finance sector seeks the right skills for growth

The report says employment growth in the finance sector is also strong but falls slightly behind the average, with almost two in five (39%) CFOs planning to add new positions over the next six months, driven by the strong business climate and an increase in workload. Nearly half (49%) will maintain headcount, 9% will freeze hiring activity, and 3% will reduce headcount.

In addition to securing candidates with the right soft skills, there are several must-have technical skills, according to CFOs. Furthermore, CFOs plan to offer salary increases in the coming months to attract and secure the skills they need for growth.

The report says digital transformation and business expansion agendas are driving hiring demand, with the top five must-have skills for the remainder of 2022 being:

  • Advanced MS Excel (60%) 
  • ERP - SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics 365, NetSuite, and Workday (50%) 
  • Business intelligence tools - TM1, Power BI, and Tableau (38%) 
  • Predictive Analytics (38%) 
  • CA/CPA (37%)

Highlighting the need for techno-functional capabilities within finance and accounting, the two skills that can command the highest salary premiums are an MBA qualification followed by Python skills. The finance skills that can attract the highest salary premium (as a % on top of starting salary) are:

  • MBA (36%) 
  • Python (33%) 
  • Business intelligence tools (28%)
  • Predictive Analytics (28%) 
  • Advanced MS Excel (24%)

The soft skills that are hardest to find, according to Australia's CFOs include management expertise (52%), project management skills (51%), and commercial acumen (51%).

Robert Half Australia managing director David Jones says there have been historically low unemployment and high job vacancy rate records set and broken continuously over the past 12 months, while participation rates and job creation continue to grow. 

"Despite signs of an economic easing, and international talent contractions in the tech space setting off alarm bells for Australian employers, our employment landscape tells a different story," he says.

"Australia's current labour conditions point to an exceptionally strong position from which to navigate potentially more challenging conditions ahead. The current tight labour market, which is being driven by buoyant job creation and already high participation rates, is showing no signs of easing with Australian business confidence also remaining strong in this new financial year."

Jones says increased hiring activity and rising turnover alongside an ever-shrinking active job seeker market means the competition for talent is growing fiercer.

"While employers will be typically looking for many in-demand soft-skills and technical skills to fill roles in the coming months, it's important for companies to remain open to hiring candidates based on their potential to grow into a role with the support of ongoing investment in internal training, professional development and succession planning," he says.

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