By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – Returning emigrants taking up contract jobs in the computer industry to deal with the Year 2000 problem and the changeover to the euro are earning thousands of pounds a week and have seen their pay soar by up to 100 percent in recent years, according to job-placement agencies.
A skills shortage in specialist computer languages and the millennium date change and euro problems has put a premium price on their skills.
The market pressure has led to recruitment agencies paying bonuses to computer staff who recommend friends and specialist job fairs and hiring promotions being held in Australia, America, South Africa and Britain in an effort to attract the right staff.
A survey for Computer People Ireland found that team leaders with over five years experience in Oracle, Ingres or RDB are commanding _471 a day
“There has been a huge rate inflation over the last 18 months,” according to Larry Masterson of CPI.
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He said that a lot of the work being offered was on contract because companies did not necessarily want people with the particular specialist skill-set on their staff on a whole-time basis.
“What they decide is to bring someone in from outside, pay them a lot of money and at the end of the period of six months or so there are no further ties,” he said
“There is also a trend that IT professionals themselves are going into the contract marketplace. If companies simply can’t get people who want to work permanently with them they have to look for contractors.”
“Our key target market would be returning emigrants – the person who has been away for five or 10 years and picked up a lot of good skills, may have a couple of kids and wants them educated where they went to school and think this might be a good time to return.
“They are principally coming from the UK but they are also arriving from New Zealand, South Africa, America, Germany and Australia. They tend to get in contact with us and we welcome any calls.”
Masterson said computer experts familiar with the older “legacy” systems used on mainframe computers in big companies like banks and airlines are most in demand at the moment.
A survey by Paul MacDonnell Associates specialist IT marketing consultants found that salaries for legacy application languages have increased by up to 25 percent in the last year.
The survey showed the skills shortage had resulted in an increase in contract length. Contracts were normally for 18 weeks but now offers of 12- and 18-month terms are common.
Grainne Martin, CPI branch manager, said there was some evidence that contractors are driving rates to a level that will do them and the industry long-term harm.
“Both contractors and employers should start considering the benefits of longer-term relationships in terms of training, career development and employment prospects,” she said.