One in two IT workers looking to jump ship

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A lack of training and career development is fuelling employee dissatisfaction amongst Australia’s IT workers, with 49% actively looking for new work and a further 40% open to jumping ship for the right offer.

These findings are from a survey of nearly 2000 tech workers undertaken by IT workforce solutions specialists Greythorn, which gathered data on issues such as pay, skills, career development, discrimination and the industry outlook.

The research also revealed growing demand, amongst IT workers for contract roles (42%) – chiefly, temporary (13%) or independent (9.5%) contract roles. According to Greythorn, this demand relates to the fact that a) 42% expect rates of pay for contract workers to increase over the next 12 months and b) 25% are interested in greater flexibility of work hours and the ability to work from home. In terms of pay, 25% reported having had an increase exceeding 5% in the last twelve months but 40 percent said they have had no pay rise at all.

The findings reveal a number of emerging challenges for employers. In particular, high levels of job dissatisfaction, poor culture and the perception that companies aren’t investing enough in skills and career development are likely to make it more difficult for companies to hold on to tech workers.

Recent research by Right Management (part of the ManpowerGroup) found that 68% of employees globally expect their employer to provide career development resources and 65 percent expect to receive career guidance from their managers; however, the Greythorn research found that when IT workers do not receive this support, they will leave their current employer for organisations that provide clear career development opportunities.

Only 25% of IT workers reported being ‘very engaged’ in their current role while lack of development (18%) and poor culture (16%) are the two primary reasons tech workers give for leaving their employer. Overall, 50% said there was either no opportunity for career development in their current role or they were unsure of whether such opportunities existed. Nearly 25% of tech workers reported never having participated in employer-supported training, with another 30% having received no training over the last twelve months.

Greythorn General Manager Suzanne Gerrard said the findings suggest employers must place more emphasis on training and career development to attract and retain the best workers, especially as IT is one of the top five most difficult skills to find in Australia (ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey 2016-17).

“The Greythorn research clearly shows that an increasing number of IT workers are seeking new ways of working and expect greater input from their employers into training and career development”, she said.

“Tech workers continue to adapt to changes in work structure such as the rise in contract work. However, in return they want employers who are willing to invest in training, career development and ensure workplace flexibility benefits both employer and employee. Smart companies will take advantage of this openness by providing workers with flexible arrangements while recognising that they must continue to invest in skills.”

The Greythorn survey also found that 58% of IT workers has been personally discriminated against on the basis of age, race or gender. A third (34%) said there was a gender pay gap, with 49% citing transparent remuneration policies and 43% citing more flexible work arrangements as essential if more women are to be attracted to the sector.

“There is clearly more work to be done if we are to increase the number of opportunities for women and provide a working environment in which professionals from all backgrounds believe they have the opportunity to learn and prosper in the Australian tech sector”, Gerard said.

“The gender pay gap, opportunities for older workers and ensuring an open and inclusive environment are essential to reducing perceptions of discrimination and lack of opportunity.”

In terms of skills, tech workers reported that being better equipped for the cloud (35%) and making better use of big data (34%) are key areas for development over the coming year. IT executives cited balancing innovation and budgets and increasing data accessibility without compromising security as their biggest challenges. Furthermore, 25 percent of CIOs said their role had become more business-focused.