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Alex Badenoch, Telstra’s group executive for transformation, communications and people, said the telco is in a perpetual hunt for tech skills, adding that the international border closures had made things much worse, with over 1000 positions unfilled.
“We’ve been challenged to keep up with the level of supply that keeps up with the hirers’ demand for some time. It is an issue COVID or no COVID that we need to be addressing in Australia,” she said.
Ms Badenoch said flexibility, ongoing skill development, and giving people a sense that they contribute to a broader sense of purpose was increasingly important in this new world of hiring.
She said some Telstra employees were already working an average of two days a week from home before the pandemic, but that greater flexibility had now become essential.
“I was pretty much a five-days-a-weeker in the office,” Ms Badenoch said.
“But I’ve now discovered an opportunity for balance in my life where I can do two or three days in the office, two or three days at home, and be around for my family, or contribute in other ways in my life.”
She said Telstra had a “work-from-anywhere” policy and governments, companies and universities needed to continually partner to engage people at early stages to snap up in-demand talent.
Meanwhile, the founder of $US1.5 billion ($2.05 billion)-valued Culture Amp, Didier Elzinga, said his company was on the hunt for more than 100 roles across engineering, design, sales, customer support, support and finance.
“We are hiring more than we ever have, but it is definitely competitive,” he said.
“The downstream effects of COVID mean that not only are you competing more against global players, who traditionally hired more in the US but are now looking globally, but also locally we are all now hiring all across Australia, whereas before, hiring tended to be focused in the city where your office was based.”
Culture Amp, which conducts internal workplace surveys on employee experiences, said recent insights showed attrition across the board was running close to double pre-pandemic levels.
“There are lots of reasons including a very hot market, but one of the main ones is a lot of people are feeling very unsettled after the last two years and changing jobs is one of the things they can do to change their environment,” he said.
“Burnout is a huge problem and every company we talk to, including Culture Amp, is having ongoing conversations with staff on how to navigate it and get some sort of balance.”
Culture Amp works with companies such as Nine, publisher of The Australian Financial Review, oOh!Media, and Slack.
Despite talk of a “great resignation”, job mobility for the year ended last February found only 7.5 per cent of employed people across all sectors changed jobs, the lowest annual job mobility rate on record, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.
However, ABS data across that same period showed job mobility remained highest for professionals, at 21 per cent of those who changed jobs.
Candidates are now asking for higher salaries or specific benefits that are of most value to them and companies have to respond.
— Kellie Egan, chief people officer, Marketplacer.
Ben Thompson, chief executive of another fast-growing Australian tech company, Employment Hero, said he was short by more than 50 roles across his company. His company sells software that helps organisations onboard new employees.
“We’re definitely experiencing the lack of skilled tech and sales talent, and I’m sure other companies are seeing this also. For some of our more senior roles, it’s taken us months to find the right fit, whereas in previous years it might have taken weeks,” he said.
“We are hearing every day from clients that developers, product managers, data and business analysts are in strong demand right now. There has always been a shortage of tech skills talent in Australia, it has just heightened in recent times.”
He said across Employment Hero’s 6000 clients, the company was seeing 10,000 people starting new jobs each month. From June 30 until November 4, he said there had been a 91 per cent increase in recruitment activity recorded on the group’s applicant-tracking system, compared with the first six months of the year.
“We are experiencing this shortage ourselves. We have interest in our open tech roles, which is great, however it is a tight market, so you have to approach candidates in a thoughtful manner,” Mr Thompson said.
“You have to represent the role and culture that they would be joining, in the best way.”
He said Employment Hero was making sure it benchmarked salaries to the market to ensure it was competitive; it also offers Employee Share Options to increase a sense of loyalty and commitment to the company.
Recently formed tech industry body the Tech Council of Australia, which has members including Atlassian, Canva, SafetyCulture and Microsoft, said the skills shortage looks like getting worse.
Workforce to be short 260,000 people
Based on the current trajectory, it said the workforce is 260,000 people short of what will be needed by 2025.
Its industry tracking forecasts that Australia will need 1 million people in tech jobs by 2025, compared with 740,000 today, based on the latest figures compiled by Accenture.
Its tracker works by first determining what number of tech jobs are needed for Australia’s existing technology sector to reach its full potential, and then calculating how many people are likely to flow into those jobs organically from new graduates, existing workers, and skilled migrants versus the number of jobs that actually need to be filled.
The Tech Council said it had done a study that found vacancies for key tech positions such as developers, cyber security experts and data scientists were taking much longer to fill than non-tech jobs, with just under half taking longer than 60 days.
At the smaller end of town, IPO-hopeful Marketplacer’s chief people officer, Kellie Egan, said the company was currently hiring about two or three new people each week, but still had 25 roles outstanding.
She said competition for good talent was fierce and that potential employees hold most of the cards.
“Candidates are in the fortunate position of having more than one offer, in addition to often receiving a counteroffer from their existing workplace,” she said.
“Candidates are now asking for higher salaries or specific benefits that are of most value to them and companies have to respond if they need to fill. Offering remote work, competitive salaries, equity and a great company culture are at the top of the list,” she said.
In terms of role types where salary boosts are rife, website and app designers, data scientists and digital marketers have been some of the big winners in the salary increase game, Mercer’s 2021 Australia Total Remuneration Survey found last week.
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