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Wadeson Welcomes Index but Predicts Skills Shortage Will Continue

by Staff Writers •
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John Wadeson ‘loves a good index’ due to his economics background. ‘Especially one that allows for an informed debate’.

Wadeson, Deputy CEO and CIO of Centrelink made these comments at the launch of the Peoplebank Intermedium Federal Government ICT Labour Hire Index in Canberra on 15 September.

He said that until the advent of the index, which tracks the average daily labour hire rate of ICT contractors in the Federal Government market, a great deal of anecdotal information had been driving the agenda on what to do about the soaring cost of contractors in Canberra.

Given the cost of contractors over recent times, Wadeson explained Centrelink was actively looking for resourcing alternatives. One measure has been to take on ICT apprentices.

Another was Centrelink’s plan to recruit 100 graduates. However this was stymied, says Wadeson, by the fact that there weren’t enough graduates to meet these targets.

So a further response has been to shift the programming requirements to where the resources are, such as to centres which are holding onto their people. Centrelink started this initiative in Adelaide and following its success has now extended the approach to Brisbane, Perth and Hobart.

Whilst this last measure has ‘shored things up’, it doesn’t remove two underlying problems, said Wadeson. And while the Peoplebank Intermedium Index has show a ‘welcome’ drop in the daily average rate over the last few months, he does not believe that downward trend will be sustained.

The first is an issue of demographics. Centrelink has a significant number of ICT staff in their 50s, and while Centrelink is encouraging many to stay on, it is inevitable many will retire in the next two to five years. This baby boomer issue is present in other agencies and has the potential to again create upward pressure in the market as agencies vie for resources.

The second is the expectations of government and citizens for agencies to keep on ‘doing more’ with technology. And while he sees demand for technology use in government will continue unabated, he also sees that the supply side may fail to keep up, leading to continuing upward pressure on the average daily labour hire rate.

For more information about the Peoplebank Intermedium Federal Government ICT Labour Hire Index, contact Tim Conway, Intermedium's Head of Research by email, or on 0410 628 655

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